Good morning, TeamUHN!

It is a pleasure to connect with you across care, research, education through this weekly CEO update – all in service of A Healthier World.

Key reminders and updates

  • Tomorrow: Join our next Virtual Open Forum at 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Submit questions by clicking here or entering #AskUHNx01 on
  • Congratulations TeamUHN – most people are doing a great job with masking! Our colleagues in IPAC (Infection Prevention & Control) have been conducting surprise visits on clinical units and we applaud your consistent efforts. Areas for improvement include not sharing food with colleagues and staying apart in lounges and locker rooms. Let's up our game, TeamUHN.

Overview of last week

1. Half a million COVID-19 tests completed by the UHN-Sinai microbiology lab

  • Background: Since March 2020, our joint microbiology laboratory has scaled up the volume of COVID-19 tests we process by a 20-fold increase. We have completed more COVID-19 tests than any other single lab in the province and have supported 24 hospitals, 15 long-term care facilities and 14 provincial Assessment Centres. We are also the lab backup for Public Health Ontario, the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA), SickKids and Shared Labs.
  • What happened last week? The UHN-Sinai Microbiology Lab reported half a million COVID-19 tests complete – a huge milestone.
  • What do I need to know? Thank you to our frontline laboratory staff for their amazing work and to Christine Bruce ;and Tony Mazzulli for their leadership. On average, the UHN-Sinai lab completes up to 6,000 tests daily, which represents up to 25% of Ontario's daily testing. The lab has additional capacity and continues to plan for growth to meet Ontario's needs. Average turnaround time is currently 11 hours for routine testing once samples are received in the lab.

2. Inaugural meeting of UHN's Executive Council on Quality

  • Background: We have created an Executive Council on Quality to provide a clear line of sight on high-priority quality and safety risks at UHN. This group will be tasked with reviewing the proposed interventions for mitigating those risks, evaluation measures, and timelines for implementation. It will complement our existing structures and focus on those intractable problems that contribute to lower quality – including issues around escalation of authority and a culture of speaking up. The Council will leverage the impressive work of UHN's Caring Safely journey.
  • What happened last week? We held the first meeting of UHN's Executive Council on Quality.
  • What do I need to know? UHN's Executive Council on Quality is chaired by the President & CEO (myself). Council membership includes the Physician-in-Chief (Ed Cole), Surgeon-in-Chief (Shaf Keshavjee), Chief of Health Professions (Joy Richards), Chief Medical Officer (Brian Hodges), Chief Patient Safety Officer (Emily Musing), Medical Advisory Committee Chair (Fei-Fei Lui), and Medical Director, Quality and Safety (Lucas Chartier).

What happened at the Executive Leadership Forum meeting

UHN's Executive Leadership Forum (ELF) represents a broad range of voices and skill sets from across the organization and provides direction and oversight in service of patients, TeamUHN and our vision of A Healthier World. See the full membership on The last ELF meeting was held on Sept. 17, 2020.

COVID-19 update

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: The number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ontario. Wait times at COVID Assessment Centres are very long at the moment – two to six hours on average. As mentioned above in this update, the UHN-Sinai joint microbiology lab has additional capacity and is planning for growth to respond to Ontario's needs.
  • Who presented? Susy Hota (Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control)
  • What do I need to know? We are all responsible for preventing the transmission of COVID-19. In preparation for Wave 2, UHN's COVID-19 Committee and Flu Planning Committees are collaborating in case we face an intense surge of COVID-19 cases and other respiratory virus activity. Occupational Health is expecting to receive this year's flu vaccines by Oct. 9 and aiming to launch our flu vaccine campaign by Oct. 13(should there be no delays in shipment).

Review and recruitment for Physician-in-Chief, Surgeon-in-Chief, Deputy CFO

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: Ed Cole (Physician-in-Chief) and Shaf Keshavjee (Surgeon-in-Chief) have successfully completed 10-year terms which signals an appropriate time to review these roles using external committees. We are also moving forward with recruiting a Deputy Chief Financial Officer. The role is currently vacant.
  • Who presented? Brian Hodges (Chief Medical Officer; Executive Vice President, Education) and Darlene Dasent (Chief Financial Officer)
  • What do I need to know? We have completed the external review of the Physician-in-Chief role and a summary report was circulated. In response to the report, a Search Advisory Committee has been assembled for the next Physician-in-Chief. For the Surgeon-in-Chief role, a Review Committee has been struck and will begin work in the coming weeks. We are also in the final stage of recruitment for the Deputy Chief Financial Officer role.

Financial update: August 2020 results

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: The members of ELF were presented with UHN's August 2020 results. We are managing a significant deficit of approximately $38 M in our clinical programs, driven largely by reduced volumes in areas which receive volume-based funding. We are operating under the assumption that the Ministry of Health will cover our COVID costs and business lines impacted by the pandemic, which would reduce our overall deficit to $2.5 M. This recovery funding is not guaranteed, however, and poses a risk that all hospitals must manage in partnership with the Government of Ontario. We appreciate that fiscal resources are limited for the entire system.
  • Who presented? Darlene Dasent (Chief Financial Officer)
  • What do I need to know? We are focused on maintaining a balanced financial position at UHN – especially since we are preparing to invest in a new Health Information System (which will supercharge our upcoming Clinical Transformation journey) and advancing our Master Plan to see our physical space redesigned.

Update from UHN's Foundations

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: The charitable sector is facing billions in lost revenue due to COVID-19. This is troubling because UHN relies on the generosity of our donor community to inspire and deliver tomorrow's care, research and education. We are considered one of the top five hospitals in the world thanks to the support of donors and our Foundations. These include Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TGWHF) and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (PMCF). The members of ELF received an update from our Foundation colleagues.
  • Who presented? Tennys Hanson (CEO, TGWHF) and Michael Burns (President & CEO, PMCF)
  • What do I need to know? Thanks to UHN's remarkable donor community and our Foundation colleagues, both Foundations are on track with their re-forecasted fundraising targets.

Non-union compensation program

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: For many years, the hallmarks of UHN's total compensation program have been competitiveness, affordability, reward for contribution, and equity. We are one of the few hospitals in Ontario who have a pay-for-performance program for non-union employees. We also know there are challenges with our non-union compensation program, most notably in allied health. UHN's non-union compensation program has not been thoroughly evaluated in some time and the members of ELF were presented with a recommendation to proceed with a review.
  • Who presented? Diana Elder (Interim Vice President, Human Resources)
  • What do I need to know? The members of ELF agreed to proceed with a review for competitiveness and alignment with our organizational strategy. The goal is to present recommendations to ELF for approval in Q2 2021/22. There are no unspent funds to address the potential findings.

Clinical Transformation: Health Information System Total Cost of Ownership

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: We are moving closer to our Clinical Transformation at UHN – one that will be supercharged by a new Health Information System (HIS). This will require significant investment, regardless of which vendor we engage. UHN's HIS project team has been working on a Total Cost of Ownership model which estimates the complete cost of a new HIS over a 10-year period. A subgroup of colleagues reviewed key assumptions around the Total Cost of Ownership two weeks ago and the revised model was brought to ELF last week.
  • Who presented? Robert Slepin (Senior Project Director, HIS) and Sarah Muttitt (Chief Information Officer)
  • What do I need to know? We are aiming to finalize the Total Cost of Ownership by the end of September and determine if we can come to an agreement with the preferred vendor.

Closing notes

Celebrating TeamUHN through the behind-the-scenes UHN 24/7 Photo Essay. Everyone here plays a role in ensuring the needs of patients come first – and that includes many, many people and professions. View the photo essay on for a special look at the people who work around the clock to help us deliver great care, research and education at UHN.

Apple announced an official partnership with UHN led by Heather Ross (Scientific Lead, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre). In two studies launching soon, patients will test the new Apple Watch Series 6 devices and see if its metrics can help with the management of heart failure. To learn more, watch this 40-second video.

We recognized Rehabilitation Day in Toronto last week on Sept. 15. Thank you to our valued colleagues at Toronto Rehab and beyond for dedicating yourselves to helping others through rehabilitation services, research and education.

We shared updates with UHN's Board of Trustees at our meeting last week on Sept. 16. I will send a separate summary of the discussion in the near future.


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Have a good week,


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