Good afternoon, TeamUHN!

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

Key reminders and updates

  • This week, we bid a fond farewell to Gillian Howard, our Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications, who will embark on a well-earned retirement. Gillian – or Gill, as she's known to TeamUHN – has been with UHN for more than 20 years. Her incredible tenure began just a few months before the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak and will end shortly after marking three years of the COVID-19 pandemic. A fountain of knowledge about UHN, our healthcare system, media relations, and all things communications, Gill has mentored countless TeamUHN members, particularly her colleagues in Public Affairs & Communications. We will all miss her calm and unflappable nature, kindness and decency, and unwavering professionalism and dedication in the face of any challenge. Her legacy will live on in the many TeamUHN members she has touched over the years. We wish her the very best as she opens this next chapter, with more time for travel, art history, and relaxation. I'm hopeful after a few months of post-UHN life, Gill just might help us with a few special projects! Visit UHN News to learn more about her career.
  • It was wonderful to be at the Toronto Western last Thursday for the official kick-off to the TW Patient Tower Project and the unveiling of the new project name – Project Aspire. We know the Toronto Western site has not always had the attention it deserves and, with Project Aspire, that is certainly changing. The state-of-the-art working environment we are building, in the form of an 11-storey patient tower on the northwest corner of the campus, represents the future of patient care. Once completed, the new tower will have inpatient floors with single rooms and washrooms, 20 new operating rooms, new pre-operative and post-anesthetic care units, gathering spaces for families, and places for staff to relax. It was especially wonderful to hear from a UHN Patient Partner, Jackie Dallas, who appeared at the kick-off event virtually while on vacation to speak about what this major endeavour means for patients. The project name – Aspire – was submitted by Dr. Richard Ward, who said he chose the word because it reflects ambition, high aims, and how TeamUHN always aspires to work together and do our very best for patients. The groundbreaking is expected to take place in Fall 2023 and we anticipate opening the tower in 2028. Visit the Project Aspire website to learn more about this project. Click the image below to watch a replay of the event.
  • The Collaborative Change Leadership (CCL) Program has been awarded the University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine 2021-2022 Ivan Silver Innovation Award, recognizing innovative initiatives in continuing professional development for healthcare leaders. The CCL Program is a certificate program offered by UHN, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Centre for Advancing Collaborative Healthcare & Education (CACHE). Its purpose is to develop leaders across health care and health education to engage their teams and communities to co-create and sustain system change, rooted in compassion and a more just world. Learn more about the program here. Congratulations to all of the CCL faculty: Maria Tassone (UHN Executive Director, Education & Professional Development; CCL Co-Director), Mandy Lowe (UHN Senior Director, Clinical Education), Belinda Vilhena (UHN Director, Operations and Business Development, CACHE), and external faculty Kathryn Parker and Jill Shaver (CCL Co-Director).
  • The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has launched an innovative at-home care program to allow hematologic patients who receive an allogeneic stem cell transplant (ALLO) to access much of their care at home. An ALLO transplant, used to treat blood cancers, means a patient receives stem cells from a healthy donor to replace those that have been destroyed and typically must spend several weeks being treated in a hospital. Patients in the ALLO@Home program can be treated at home while being closely monitored by the team. The program even enables patients who live outside the Greater Toronto Area to stay in a furnished condo so that none will be too far to return to the hospital quickly if need be. A similar program in Sweden was found to have had a positive effect on patient outcomes. Jamie Carr, a leukemia patient from New Brunswick, and one of the first patients to enroll in the ALLO@Home program, told UHN News he struggled through several months in a hospital near his home when he was diagnosed. "Being able to get out of the hospital and receive this kind of care has been fantastic," he said. "The staff have been great every step of the way." This is just another example of how UHN is listening to patients and families, creating more capacity for cancer treatment, and inventing tomorrow's care. Read more at UHN News.
  • Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled a $207.4-billion budget Thursday that includes $81 billion in planned healthcare spending. The plan designates all of the $4.4 billion in health funds promised in the deal between the federal government and Ontario. The budget includes more than $569 million to improve home care and $200 million to address health human resources challenges, including funding for 6,000 students to train in hospitals and money for more than 3,000 internationally educated nurses to become accredited in Ontario. The province will also invest $80 million over three years to expand nursing education, a move it says will add 8,000 additional nurses by 2028. We won't really know exactly what the budget means for UHN until we get our funding allocation from Ontario Health and until we know all the labour awards and settlement costs. We'll keep you well informed as we have more definitive information. To achieve a balanced position, based on expected costs, UHN needs an increase of approximately $125 million. Read the full Ontario budget online. The federal government will release its budget on March 28.

Closing Notes

Last Friday, The Epilepsy Group at Krembil Brain Institute (KBI) marked Purple Day with an in-person event in the Toronto Western Hospital atrium. About 1 in 100 people live with epilepsy, characterized by recurring seizures, ranging from mild to severe, that can significantly impact a person's daily life. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy is largely misunderstood, and many people with the condition face discrimination and stigma. Trainees from the diverse research groups shared the latest in epilepsy research. Hospital visitors and UHN staff learned how music can reduce seizure frequency and how novel techniques detect seizures before they start. The team of neurologists, nurse practitioners and nurse clinicians, neurosurgeons, neurogeneticists, dieticians, neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists, neuroscientists, and clinical electrophysiologists had a chance to interact with patients, visitors, and staff to raise awareness and fight the stigma. "It's so nice to have Epilepsy Day in person again. It allows us to interact with patients and our community to spread awareness. We are immensely grateful to our patients and their families for participating in several studies to help advance future therapeutics," says Dr. Homeira Moradi, Scientific Associate, KBI.

A research team at UHN's KITE Research Institute has developed two video-based methods to detect risky behaviours in individuals living with dementia while upholding their privacy. While video surveillance of certain patients living with dementia is common in long-term care homes to ensure their safety, the footage is not always monitored and privacy cannot be guaranteed. To address these issues, a team led by Dr. Shehroz Khan used real surveillance data from a dementia care unit and applied two privacy-protecting approaches – one using software to replace individuals with "stick figures" that model their behaviour and a second replacing individuals with silhouettes – to analyze the footage. The team found that both were as good at detecting high-risk behaviour as traditional methods. "And by distilling video footage into positional body data, privacy can be guaranteed," said Pratik Mishra, a graduate student in Dr. Khan's group and the lead author of the study. Read more about the study online.

Be sure to also check out this UHN News story exploring Gentle Persuasive Approaches (GPA) training at Toronto Rehab's Specialized Dementia Unit (SDU). This training helps TeamUHN members learn gentle physical redirection techniques to deter patients from unsafe situations while at all times recognizing their personhood. "It's an extremely practical course that offers real strategies my team and I can use on a daily basis," says Shannon Reid, an Advanced Practice leader for the SDU and certified GPA coach.​

The UHN Wellness Team presents "Music and Wellness," a 20-minute session exploring the connection between music and our well-being on March 29 at 12 p.m. SarahRose Black, the Registered Music Therapist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, will be the guest speaker. The event is being held via MS Teams and at the Princess Margaret (Bld. 210, 6th floor, 604 Auditorium). Click here to register. Questions? Contact

And speaking of music… it's time for our video of the week. In this clip, we learn how Princess Margaret Cancer Centre uses music to create a soothing environment.


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Have a good week,


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