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​Good Monday morning,

I'll start this message with the shooting last night on the Danforth. It is a terrible thing to wake up to the news that so many people have been affected and that there is loss of life. We will know more in the days ahead but it underlines our need to be familiar with our emergency responses. I know that our team in the Emergency Departments are always ready and I can only hope that they do not have to put their training into practice.

Last week, I was invited to join The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation's monthly town hall. Before attending I was able to look back on the stupendous achievements of The PMCF over the past few years. What a humbling experience to see the profound generosity of donors and the dedication of caregivers, educators and scientists. 

  • Just last month, The PMCF raised $18.3 million through the Ride to Conquer Cancer and I know many are looking forward to their fall lottery program which goes live tomorrow. Since 1996, the Princess Margaret lotteries have raised more than $386 million in net proceeds which have been granted to and transformative for the Cancer Centre.

    We've seen vast improvements in survival rates for certain types of cancer and many other diseases thanks to the dedication and hard work of exceptionally talented researchers around the world many of whom we're fortunate to have as colleagues at UHN. And much of the work we do here would not be possible without our loyal donor community and three Foundations including Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation and Toronto Rehab Foundation. UHN is lucky to have them in the family! Frankly, without the Foundations our research mission and our buildings and equipment would be dramatically diminished. We thank the teams at our Foundations and every donor.

Of course, survival rates aren't the only indicator of successful care. I had the chance to tour more of the Princess Margaret last week and was deeply impressed by the work being done to support our patients – not only in terms of managing their oncology needs but also from a psychosocial and mental health perspective. My sincere thanks to the teams and individuals I met for generously educating me on the work they do.

Next, I'll share an encounter that remains on my mind. When returning to Toronto General, I saw a recently treated patient lying outside of their Emergency Department on the sidewalk.

  • The patient had recently been seen and released from the ER and appeared to suffer with mental health and addictions issues. The patient was barely conscious. I was worried about his well-being and did my best to rouse him and determine if he wished to return to the ER. I was quickly approached by an EMS (emergency medical services) colleague and a police officer who also offered to assist the patient. A big shout out to both of these dedicated and compassionate colleagues. They treated this individual with dignity and respect and helped him get back on his feet and gather his things. Most impressive they then determined if he needed to be connected with someone to help him get housing or food. We couldn't have better partners than EMS and TPS (Toronto Police Service) based on what I experienced.

    I know our dedicated staff go beyond to care for patients during their time with us but how do we make sure there is continued support in the community once the most vulnerable are discharged? If we are to ensure the needs of patients come first, we must look beyond our own walls and strengthen our community partnerships to deliver the transformative care we know many of our patients need.

My next topic is one of major concern to UHN – burnout in healthcare. Quality of work life is a demonstrated means of addressing this issue and must be an ongoing priority for UHN. The urgency of this was emphasized through some great work I saw last week from two highly impressive medical students. While their work focused on physicians, we know this is true for all healthcare workers.

  • Magdalene Au and Claire Rollans presented their findings from an environmental scan they conducted on physician burnout at UHN to senior management. Burnout is a pervasive issue in healthcare and unfortunately extends to all clinical professions. In the scan, Magdalene and Claire identified the main causes of burnout including excessive workload, incivility and the digital environment. While I was heartened to see "pockets of excellence" identified through wellness programs such as BRITE, we heard loudly and clearly the importance of addressing burnout early and often. Every person on Team UHN deserves a supportive working environment and to find joy in their work. Thus as we collectively shape our strategic plan, it is imperative we consider increased staff resiliency an important outcome. Stay tuned to hear more about our plan to address burnout.

    In addition to Magdalene and Claire, thanks also to their supervisor, Dr. Isser Dubinsky at University of Toronto's Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dr. John Granton and our Medical Staff Association for supporting this valuable work.

I'll end this week's note with a reminder that we have much to celebrate at UHN: highlights about some of our Local Impact Award nominees. Hats off to these remarkable people and the thoughtful colleagues who took the time to nominate them.

  • Robert "RJ" Edralin based at Toronto General: Robert is a Registered Nurse Clinical Coordinator for UHN's Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Program. He is recognized by his colleagues for his "calm and persevering leadership" when working towards upholding patients' wishes during the MAID process and guiding teams beyond UHN on their own processes.
  • General Radiography Coral Review Quality Leads in the Joint Department of Medical Imaging: Valerie Anzil, Sarah Mariani, Michelle Murray, Sharron Wilson (Sinai Health System) and Patricia Gauthier (Women's College) are nominated for their role in leading the development and launch of Canada's first General Radiography Peer Review Program, which provides continuous education for technologists to improve image quality and patient care.
  • Dr. Gelareh Zadeh: Gelareh is a neurosurgeon, Program Medical Director of the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute and Head of Surgical Oncology at Princess Margaret. She is nominated for being a leader in facilitating stronger communication among the clinicians and researchers in UHN's neuroscience sphere.
  • The Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy: The academy is a UHN satellite location which supports people living with dementia, their families and care partners. "The impact of this remarkable team is difficult to put into words," writes the nominator who praises the team for their compassion and contagious energy.

Thanks for reading,

​Kevin ​

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