Good morning, 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

  • Remote Work Policy offers guidance for TeamUHN to determine appropriate work model. September always feels like the start of a new year as students go back-to-school, which includes UHN as we welcome back students in a variety of health professions. I've received some questions around return to work and in-person meetings. I often remind those inquiring about return to work that we have a Remote Work Policy for managers and employees to use when contemplating what work will look like in the future. The options include: daily return to on-site work, a hybrid model which splits time on-site and at home, or fully remote-based work. This decision must be made between managers and the employee. As the Chief Medical Officer has noted with concern, there is an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, so we continue to encourage working from home when possible. Avoiding in-person meetings for the foreseeable future and always applying public health measures such as masking, physical distancing and frequent hand-washing.
  • This past Saturday was the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Many of us remember September 11, 2001, watching in horror as 2,977 innocent lives were lost during the worst terrorist attack in American history. I know those close to UHN were impacted by this tragedy and many members across TeamUHN continue to grieve. My thoughts are with everyone who has been and continues to be impacted by this callous act of hate. We will continue to remember and honour the memories of those that lost their lives.
  • The Synapse project is a top strategic priority for UHN. Implementing a new health information system (HIS) during a pandemic is not ideal, but replacing current systems is long overdue and essential for patient safety. Everyone involved in the project is well aware of the demands on staff’s time and attention, and is doing what they can to minimize the impact on operational resources. To that end, the scope of the Synapse project has been frozen. A “change freeze” enables the project team and all stakeholders to focus the work needed for a safe and effective transition to Epic on June 4, 2022. Read more about the change freeze.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to Wave 4 of COVID-19, UHN has re-activated its Executive COVID-19 IMS (Incident Management System) table. Membership includes our Executive Leadership Forum and other members of COVID-19 work streams. The group meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a snapshot of the discussion.

State of COVID-19 in the Greater Toronto Area and at UHN

  • Background: We are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and a rise in severe cases being referred to Toronto General and Toronto Western ICUs, with an increasing number of those patients being placed on ECMO.
  • Who presented? Niall Ferguson (Head, Critical Care) and Susy Hota (Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control)
  • What do I need to know? Double vaccination is our best defence against COVID-19. About 75% of hospitalized COVID-19 cases across Ontario are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated with only one dose. In 25% of cases, people are double vaccinated, but almost exclusively these are mild or asymptomatic cases. In fact, to date, UHN has not seen a double vaccinated patient in the ICU, ventilated or die.

Overview of last week

Finance & Audit Committee of the Board met to discuss 2021/22 fiscal year-end

  • Background: UHN’s Board of Trustees works to ensure that UHN is fiscally sound. As expert volunteers, they are committed to looking at the in-year financials and planning for the years ahead.
  • What happened last week? The Finance & Audit Committee met in advance of the next meeting of the Board of Trustees. Kevin Smith (President & CEO) and Darlene Dasent (Vice President & Chief Financial Officer) presented to the Board Committee in preparation for the next meeting of the Board of Trustees.
  • What do I need to know? The Board Finance & Audit Committee is satisfied that, with the additional COVID-19 funds coming from the Province, UHN will end 2021-22 in a balanced position. However, for the year 2021-22, we will have financial challenges if funds do not come to pay for the additional work that COVID-19 requires of any hospital. Our estimate is that we will have to find $25M in savings based upon the funding recently confirmed from Ontario Health.

Human Resources Committee presented on Remote Work Policy, staffing strategies, and succession planning

  • Background: The Human Resources Committee is a committee of the Board, appointed annually by the Board of Trustees. The Committee meets at least 3 times per year or at the call of the Chair.
  • What happened last week? The Human Resources Committee met with the Board Committee to present on a number of topics including on the Remote Work Policy, the work being done on staffing strategies, the Mandatory Vaccination Policy and succession planning for senior leadership in the organization. Sheila O’Brien (Executive Vice President, People, Culture & Community) and Diana Elder (Vice President, People Culture & Community) presented.
  • What do I need to know? Information about all of the topics covered at the Board meeting are available on the Intranet behind People, Culture & Community [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available] (formerly Human Resources). Succession planning for senior leadership at UHN is underway and regarded as an approach to ensures the success of UHN now and into the future.

Michener/UHN Education Committee

  • Background: As the advisory committee to both UHN and the Michener Institute Boards, the committee is responsible for monitoring and evaluating education-related activities, including increasing the overall effectiveness of the education mandate.
  • What happened last week? Kevin Smith (President & CEO), Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer) and Harvey Weingarten (Principal, The Michener Institute) presented to the Board Committee in preparation for the next meeting of the Board of Trustees.
  • What do I need to know? The committee was provided with several updates in preparation for the Board of Trustees meeting this week. The committee was satisfied and approved the financial statement for Q1. The committee also approved the conferral of credentials for Fall 2021.

Closing notes

September 12-18 is Living Donation Week.

This week, the Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN hosts Living Donation Week (LDW) 2021, a national awareness week featuring free virtual events and activities focused on improving access and equity in living organ donation. LDW celebrates the work of Team Transplant, the generosity of living donors, and the resilience of transplant recipients. This year’s events include a celebration of Ajmera Transplant Centre staff and living donors, professional education webinars, peer-led workshop for transplant candidates, wellness activities and a Dragons' Den style pitch competition for innovation in living donation care, education and research. Help spread awareness of this extraordinary gift of life. Learn more at

September 15 is Rehabilitation Day. Today we offer thanks to our many colleagues across UHN, and in the community, who continue to demonstrate a commitment to rehab care that is improving the lives of many people living with the effects of disability, illness and aging. Our teams at Toronto Rehab are among the best in the world in many disciplines, including brain and spinal cord rehab, cardiac rehab, geriatrics, musculoskeletal rehab and complex continuing care. On the research side, our scientists and learners at the KITE Research institute continue to search for new treatments and solutions that will benefit our patients for years to come through a focused approach on prevention, restoration, enhanced participation and independent living. UHN is a world leader in rehab thanks to the hard work and dedication of our many scientists, therapist, physicians and other clinicians. On the third anniversary or Rehabilitation Day we send everyone engaged in rehab services at UHN a wholehearted thank you, and invite you to keep the conversation going by following @TRI_UHN on Twitter, and using the hashtag #RehabilitationDay.

Our UHN family was devastated to hear of the tragic loss of one of our colleagues, Lynette Sequeira, who was an administrative assistant in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre working for Dr. Eric Horlick for 8 years, the entire time she was at UHN. Lynette was not one to stand idle if there was work to be done or encouragement to be offered. She loved her work and would never fail to stop and assist anyone who needed an extra set of hands, or a kind word. All who met her, even briefly, can attest to her selflessness. Her friends and colleagues will remember the unconditional positivity and support she provided her patients, colleagues, and supervisors every day she came into work. Lynette was a woman of faith, and preached the kindness and love of her faith to all. My sincerest condolences go out to Lynette’s loved ones and all her friends and colleagues.

Looking for ways to support Afghanistan and Haiti?

The Social Work team at UHN has complied a list of ways to help support the people of Afghanistan and a list of how to help the people of Haiti. Click here for some ideas [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available]


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Have a good week,

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