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

  • Tomorrow on Feb. 9 (12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) – Virtual Open Forum on COVID-19: Read answers to FAQs here – updated regularly. (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > Virtual Open Forum (top right box) > Open Forum FAQ). Submit questions here or enter #UHNCOVID-19x39 on Livestream here (Chrome/Firefox).
  • Sign up now for UHN's COVID-19 Vaccine Registry if you haven't already – even if you do not belong to Group A. While we are working to finish Group A before moving to Group B etc., it's important to get everyone registered so we can move quickly when we have available supply. You will only be invited to receive your vaccine when it's your Group's turn. Please share this information with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up [Editor's Note: Link is no longer available] here (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness page > Vaccine Information). To see the criteria for Groups A to E, read this message (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness page > Vaccine Information > Archived Emails > "Vaccine Registry Coming This Week...").

Overview of last week

What we learned from Chris Channon, UHN Patient Partner, at the Quality & Safety Committee of the Board meeting

  • Background: UHN's Quality and Safety Committee of the Board reviews the quality of care at our hospital and makes recommendations to UHN's Board of Trustees as required. The Committee actively seeks guidance from Patient Partners to ensure we are honouring UHN's Primary Value: "The needs of patients come first."
  • What happened last week? Chris Channon (Patient Partner | Corporate Intranet > Departments > Patient Partnership) shared his story at the recent Jan. 25 meeting. Chris was the victim of a terrible attack and, as a result, has a C4 incomplete quadriplegia with central cord syndrome. His statement included gratitude for TeamUHN and, equally important, opportunities for us to improve.
  • What do I need to know? We are working to build a safe culture of continuous improvement at UHN – not one of shame or blame. Sometimes we just need a reminder, or better understanding, of the impact we have on others.

For example, Chris shared how he tried to schedule an MRI appointment needed to diagnose a life altering and possibly fatal condition. He immediately fell into a deep depression while waiting for his diagnosis. He was told the earliest appointment would be in three months at 4:00 a.m. When Chris explained how this was extremely difficult for him due to his pain and accessibility needs, he was told he'd have to wait an additional three months for a later day appointment. Given the situation and his worry, Chris felt he had no choice but to manage the difficult logistics and expenses, which involved hiring a caregiver and driver to stay overnight with him. When it came to the actual morning of his appointment, our hospital was empty and there was no one to point Chris in the right direction upon his arrival. When he finally found the right place to go, he was "coldly" told that he was late.

I won't go into further detail about Chris' story, except to say that he shares this with us in the hopes of helping us become the compassionate, humane professionals we strive to be. He asks us to consider three actions across UHN:

1. When interacting with patients, can we ask "What do I need to know about you so we can help prepare you for your appointment?

2. Can we give TeamUHN the autonomy to make changes and help patients to the greatest extent possible? For example, could we ask staff or volunteers to help patients with accessibility needs?

3. Can we ensure that "the needs of patients" include both "seeing" and "hearing" patients to understand how to best support their needs.

These requests align with UHN's Patient Declaration of Values which was created last year. Leaders, consider using this document to celebrate what you're doing well with your teams and for creating a safe space to discuss room for improvement. Know that we also recognize the organization's responsibility in ensuring that people have the training and supports they need to do their best work.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to the concerning state of COVID-19, UHN 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.

Health Services reporting need for consistent masking and distancing between members of TeamUHN

  • Background: We reported fewer COVID-positive staff members at UHN last week, which reflects the observed reduction in community prevalence. That said, while the effective reproductive number for overall cases in Ontario is 0.84 and gradually decreasing (which is a direction we need to continue), the reproductive number for variant cases is increasing and currently over 1. Everyone at UHN is doing a great job of following public health guidelines when it comes to staff-patient interactions. But we are seeing lapses when it comes to interactions between colleagues. Understandably, people tend to let their guard down when there is a sense of familiarity – but please follow public health guidelines at all times.
  • Who presented? John Granton (Interim Medical Director, Health Services) and Susy Hota (Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control)
  • What do I need to know? Our data shows that most COVID-19 transmission is between staff members, not from patients to staff. I know the majority of you are following the public health guidelines, even when interacting with a colleague you see every day. Keep following the guidelines.

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 Feb. 4, 2021.

Mental health support for TeamUHN

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: Your mental health is one of our top priorities at UHN and an active concern as the pandemic continues. In March 2020, we launched several new mental health supports to help members of TeamUHN. Here is some data on the usage so far: 362 UHN CARES appointments, 278 Team CARES engagements, 52 Peer-to-Peer Support Line calls, 103,528 Respite Centre visits and beyond. All of this information and more will be presented to UHN's Board of Trustees at the Feb. 17 meeting. This information will also be presented at tomorrow's Virtual Open Forum on Feb. 9.
  • Who presented?Diana Elder (Vice President, Human Resources), Susan Abbey (Psychiatrist-in-Chief)
  • What do I need to know? In support of your well-being and our goal of being one of the world's best places to work, our plan is to offer increasingly comprehensive mental health resources, which are confidential and anonymous. However, we recognize that some people would rather receive support elsewhere and there is help to steward you to the right environments. There is now a working group focused on this sponsored by Diana Elder and Brian Hodges (Executive Vice President, Education; Chief Medical Officer), led by Tamara Dus (Director, Health Services) and Susan Abbey.

Synapse update: Staffing challenges

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: In support of Synapse, our clinical transformation journey at UHN, we have created a dedicated Synapse project team. This team includes approximately 45 clinical staff. Since UHN is managing various clinical pressures, the Synapse team leads wanted to confirm that we are remaining on track and that the team wouldn't be taken off course by recent COVID-19 activity. Synapse is the priority initiative and we must stay the course and follow our implementation plan. If dramatic increases in COVID-19 are experienced, the re-assigning of Synapse team members would occur using a centralized process for managing competing clinical demands.
  • Who presented? Robert Slepin (Senior Project Director, HIS), ,Sarah Muttitt (Chief Information Officer)
  • What do I need to know? The sooner we complete our clinical transformation journey, the better. Any delays to the Synapse project will compromise our ability to deliver the best care, research and education – and will come with significant financial repercussions, which would in turn negatively impact our clinical operations and ability to support TeamUHN long-term.

Preparing to introduce UHN's Contract Review and Management Policy

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: The policy incorporates feedback from a prior internal audit and prior review of legal services provision at UHN, which both had recommendations pertaining to contract intake and management practices. Those reviews noted that, while we do have policies that deal with aspects of contract management, UHN needs an overarching framework for contract management to ensure consistent practice. We now have a draft policy and process. Once we have the centralized and standardized process for contract management, our colleagues in Legal will be able to better serve internal partners and clients (e.g. more timely assessments, more proactive risk assessment, etc.).
  • Who presented? Carole Garmaise (Director, Legal Operations and Privacy), Marc Toppings (Vice President & Chief Legal Officer)
  • What do I need to know? ELF stands for "Executive Leadership Forum" – but its purpose is to make things "Easier, Leaner and Faster." This policy is designed to support that mindset at UHN. The members of ELF agreed to roll out this policy using a phased or trial approach with certain departments to ensure that the changes meet objectives and are not burdensome.

Change in remote access technology (VPN) for TeamUHN

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: UHN is transitioning from our current VPN service, AnyConnect, to GlobalProtect. This was communicated in an all-users message on Feb. 1. GlobalProtect will support uninterrupted 'always-on' access to the UHN network without the need for any tokens or passwords, enhancing the overall experience of working remotely and improving accessibility to clinical and business data. The transition will be complete by March 2021.
  • Who presented? Jennifer Hope (Senior Project Manager, Data & Implementation Science), Kashif Parvaiz (Chief Information Security Officer)
  • What do I need to know? If you are using a UHN-managed device and require VPN for remote work, no immediate action is required. For other use cases (e.g. you are a cross-appointed staff member and require access to other networks or are using a personal device for access), see the actions required here (Corporate Intranet > Departments > Digital > Remote & VPN Access). Targeted communications will be sent to specific groups (Research, RMP, JDMI) in upcoming weeks as we prepare for the change.

Closing notes

Maad'ookiing Mshkiki – Sharing Medicine is a virtual hub that provides culturally relevant and trauma-informed information about COVID-19 vaccinations for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The community-centered resources aim to empower informed consent for Indigenous peoples and have been developed by the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health (CWP-IH) at Women's College Hospital, in partnership with The Indigenous Health Program at UHN, the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council (IPHCC), Anishnawbe Health Toronto (AHT), and Shkaabe Makwa at CAMH. Read more on UHN News. New resources will be released on a weekly basis on

Happy Teaching and Learning Week at UHN: Thank you for enabling exceptional teaching and learning, particularly during these challenging times. Everyone makes important contributions in creating a welcoming, inclusive and supportive learning environment at UHN. We wish you all a happy Teaching and Learning Week!


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Have a good week,


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