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

  • I start with a note of appreciation for everyone who stepped forward this weekend to cover shifts. There is absolutely no question that staff illness, staffing shortages and the need to have people take a break over the summer is pushing UHN and all health care facilities into a very serious situation where staffing remains very challenging, wait times in the Emergency Departments are well beyond the desired state, and cancellations of some scheduled care are necessary. No one who works in health care has experienced these pressures in their careers and the collegiality and support that has been extended by all professions is extraordinary. We are working hard to hire more people – as is every other health care organization. We are exploring all of the possibilities around ensuring that people are working to full scope of practice. We are also looking at new ways of educating health care professionals so that we can increase the size of the work force. We are supporting the work necessary to ensure that anyone who is currently in Canada and trained, can move quickly to gain Canadian accreditation in their chosen profession. People and Culture has reached out to nurses who have left in the last year to understand why they left, and what it would take to bring them back. We are working closely with the government and peers in hiw to improve things for patients and HCWs. I am also including Sam Sabbah's message of appreciation to everyone on TeamUHN – sent late Friday night:
    • We are in better shape thanks to the incredible support from the whole organization and our peer hospitals.
      Several residents, physician assistants, PSWs, phlebotomists, nurses and nursing students from other areas have stepped up to the plate to support our patients and our staff in the ED. Many of our staff have picked up overtime shifts. Our inpatient units have worked tirelessly to pull admitted patients up to the wards and expedite discharges. We also put a physician in triage to help expedite assessments for patients in the waiting room. Our leaders have been working around the clock to troubleshoot and come up with creative solutions.
      We are not out of the woods and the weekend will continue to be challenging, but the camaraderie and commitment of our staff has had a tremendous impact.
      Sam Sabbah
  • A big thank you to the Toronto Western Family Health Team for scheduling clinics specific to members of TeamUHN for third and fourth doses of vaccine. With over 2,000 shots given, it ensures as much protection as possible for members of the team and I know that people who attended the clinics have high praise for the efficiency and convenience of getting their shots. Of course, appointments for booster shots can still be booked through the provincial system, available on the Government of Ontario website. Please remember to upload your vaccine certificates to Health Services by using the form located here.
  • We are about seven weeks into using Epic and this milestone is celebrated with a UHN News story and video, available here. When I watched it, what struck me was the sheer number of people in the photos and how they represent a fraction of the members of TeamUHN involved. Yes, there's still much to be done, and I know there are frustrations and disappointments, but taking a moment to celebrate is important and I know that many will be celebrating their own learnings and successes as they become more familiar with the system. On behalf of UHN's Board of Trustees, thank you for ensuring that our Go-Live was a success and for continuing the work necessary to get full value from our new Health Information System. The stabilization phase of Synapse continues to progress well as "break/fix" issues – meaning Epic is not functioning as intended – are resolved as quickly as possible. It’s imperative that we stabilize the system before getting to new project and enhancement requests, and planning for that work has begun. The planning includes making adjustments to the Synapse governance structure to enable Working Groups to effectively focus on five areas over the next few months: Go-Live ticket prioritization and closure; TeamUHN user experience; system updates and upgrades; assessment of new project and enhancement requests; and Synapse Phase 2 planning. There may also be adjustments to Synapse Working Group membership as these important decision-making groups become more integrated into regular operations within programs and departments to successfully support the use of the Epic, the tool that is supercharging UHN's clinical transformation.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Karen Davis on her inclusion in National Geographic's special edition entitled The Brain – Discover the Way Your Mind Works which is on newsstands now. The article featuring her work is on chronic pain, something that has been the subject of Karen's research for many years. It is clear that an understanding of how the brain perceives chronic pain and what could be done to ease this burden for many, many people is a field of study that merits more support and exploration.
  • On July 1 we welcomed Dr. Tom Forbes as UHN's Surgeon-in-Chief. Many of you already know Tom but I thought I would send along this video from the Sprott Department of Surgery at UHN which introduces Tom and gives everyone a glimpse into his early thoughts and his appreciation for the teams at UHN. You can watch the video here

Closing Notes

Thursday, July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Despite there being treatment to cure Hepatitis C, it remains a silent killer. Screening is essential in order for people to access early treatment and prevent severe complications like cirrhosis and liver cancer. UHN's Viral Hepatitis Care Network (VIRCAN) and community partners will be hosting the event "Give Hepatitis the Finger" at Yonge-Dundas Square from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event will provide educational materials, 1:1 support, harm reduction supplies and Naloxone training, and rapid testing for Hepatitis C. The team at the Toronto Centre for Liver Disease invites TeamUHN to join this important awareness effort either in person at Yonge-Dundas Square, or by sharing the message on social media by using the hashtag #GiveHepatitisTheFinger and engaging with @VIRCAN_ca. For more information, visit the event's page.


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Have a good week,


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