Good Monday morning,

I'll start this week with a note of sincere thanks. UHN's clinical volumes and Emergency Room (ER) presentations have been very challenging of late – ER volumes are up 10%! I regret we continue to run above 100% occupancy and that each day TeamUHN is struggling to find the appropriate environment to care for patients, as well as meet our scholarly responsibilities to trainees and the scientific community. I also know this is challenging for staffing and contributing to overtime and burnout. We are working closely with our LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) and the Ministry of Health to improve the situation. Our alternate level of care challenge Ontario is as high as ever and once again we are working to look at alternatives for patients who are unable to safely go home. I wish I could say there's a quick and easy fix. You have my commitment to continue to advocate for patients, families, all of you and UHN as an important part of the healthcare system. Finally, I want to express the deep gratitude of UHN's Board of Trustees and Senior Management Forum to each of you for putting the needs of the patient first, even in such trying situations.

1. Highlights on UHN's Essentials

UHN's Essentials are essential to the work we do as a leading academic health sciences centre – hence the name! Read here to learn more. Below, you'll find highlights on UHN's Essentials from last week.

People and Culture Help us create a more diverse, inclusive UHN using the power of data: Last week, UHN launched an Employment Equity Survey on our Employee Self Service site. This is a voluntary field (found under personal information) that will help UHN improve and create more equitable employment opportunities. We need data to truly appreciate how much – or how little – progress we have made on this very important aspect of TeamUHN. That said, I appreciate this information is personal so remember this is not mandatory. The responses we do receive will help deliver more equitable employment for TeamUHN and support a better work environment for all.

People and Culture Last week, I got the chance to participate in the Test Your Limits event for World Heart Day, hosted by UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. Stationary bikes were set up in the McEwen atrium but I must confess I didn't get on one – left my cycling shorts at home. Kudos to all the colleagues who did and for encouraging so many members of TeamUHN to join the fun. I also got to test my heart knowledge with trivia facilitated by the Cardiac Rehab team from Toronto Western. Stress is one of the most significant risk factors for having a heart attack. Yet another reason why mental health and well-being is so important.

People and Culture Compliment from a patient – shout out for Chris Zafiris, UHN Hospital Assistant: Last week, our colleagues in Patient Relations passed along a compliment from one of the patients we are privileged to serve. They said they were having a tough day and that Chris' positive energy helped calm them down. This is a great reminder of how privileged we are to positively impact others at UHN – which also adds meaning and purpose to our work. Let us take advantage of that opportunity every day.

Compassionate Care and Caring I joined some Public Affairs colleagues recently to watch a new CBC documentary called "Saving Rabbit," which follows a young man known as "Rabbit" as he seeks treatment for fentanyl addiction. The film features two of our physician colleagues: Andrea Furlan (Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab), who outlines the rehab journey of someone suffering from opioid addition, and Hance Clarke (Medical Director, Transitional Pain Services, Toronto General) who speaks of UHN's research and clinical success in using cannabis to help wean people off opioids. The opioid crisis is a complex issue with no simple solution, and I thank everyone who works to support people who suffer from opioid addiction – not just patients, but also colleagues and loved ones – through their treatment and recovery.

Compassionate Care and Caring Remarkable collaboration on a time-sensitive treatment option prevents vision loss for patient: Last week, TeamUHN was prompted by Ed Margolin (neuro ophthalmologist) to treat a patient experiencing sudden vision loss following an eye surgery in a community setting. Without hesitation, a group of remarkable colleagues responded (including nurses Cecilia Neto and Michelle Lecky, medical radiation technologist Jung Choi, ophthalmologist Efrem Mandelcorn, and neurointerventional radiologists Timo Krings and Patrick Nicholson) and brought the patient to the angiography suite within 15 minutes, successfully releasing the retinal artery occlusion that was causing the vision loss. Moments later, the patient's vision cleared up. This type of treatment only works if done within a few hours of the occlusion onset, and due to its urgent nature is rarely a treatment option for patients. We should all be proud of the teamwork shown here.

Partnerships Last week, we had the honour of recognizing a remarkable family – the Turk family – for their transformative gift to expand the Toronto General ER by the creation of the Michael Lawrence Turk Rapid Assessment Centre. Sadly Michael passed away in 2018 and his dear parents, Toby and Marvin, are making this investment after spending much time in the ER and understanding the needs of TeamUHN. The lovely celebration was hosted at the home of Richard Lewin and our own Myra Soukes (neurologist at UHN's Toronto Rehab), with Richard cooking for 50 guests!

2. The art of saying "no" – speaking at the University of Toronto Department of Medicine Strategic Planning Retreat

It was my pleasure to address a very important topic amongst colleagues at the University of Toronto: "Sustaining academic medicine during times of fiscal restraint and growing clinical burden and complexity". To their relief, I did not open with "do more with less." My recommendation was actually "do less" – not less impact or quality, but learning to say "no" in service of a shared strategic vision. Easier said than done! We recently completed our own strategic planning process at UHN, and the results published in our 2019-23 Strategic Plan help us determine when to say no (e.g. less committees, fewer meetings, more focused partnerships). By learning to say "no", we will be better positioned to deliver A Healthier World despite growing fiscal and clinical pressures.

3. Vote on questions for the Open Forum on TeamUHN this Friday

The theme is "Empower and invest in a diverse TeamUHN" – the next installment in our "A Healthier World" series. Once again, we are answering questions based on the most votes which have been rolling in enthusiastically! Thanks to all for participating. There is still time to vote and shape the discussion by clicking here or enter #TeamUHN on

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, October 4, 2019
  • Time: 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
  • Location: Michener Institute auditorium (222 St. Patrick Street – main floor)

Have a good week,


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