​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 begin with a note of thanks to all those who organized and participated in TeamUHN Week of Gratitude. The daily noon-hour conversations and events last week highlighted how UHN is a truly special place with a bold future as Canada's premier academic health sciences centre. Please head to the Week of Gratitude page for links to recordings of those panels. Another great part of the week was the Gratitude Walls. Patients and staff have been adding notes of appreciation every day. If you haven't already, stop by to read what's posted and maybe add a note of your own. The Gratitude Walls will stay up until the end of November because we know there's more gratitude to be shared! Please share your feedback to help us plan for next year.
  • It was also wonderful to gather in Schatz Hall at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN on Wednesday to unveil the winners of the 2023 Local Impact Awards and Global Impact Awards. The embarrassment of riches at UHN in terms of talent and expertise and a record 113 nominations from TeamUHN made it incredibly difficult for our judging committee to decide which individuals and teams should be recognized this year for helping realize our strategic vision of A Healthier World. The full list of winning teams and individuals who exemplify UHN's values and principles can be found in this UHN News story.
    Since 2004, the UHN Global Impact Award has recognized TeamUHN members who have changed health care at home and abroad. This year, UHN recognized a trio of trailblazing scientists. Dr. Murray Urowitz, who retired from UHN's Schroeder Arthritis Institute at Toronto Western Hospital last year, was recognized for his groundbreaking work in the study and treatment of lupus, including founding Canada's first Lupus Clinic in 1970 which was later relocated to Toronto Western. The late Dr. Richard (Dick) Hill, who had a prolific career at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre that began in the 1960s, and the late Dr. Wayne Johnston, a visionary leader and surgeon at UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, were also recognized for their profound contributions to UHN and health care. As Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President of Science & Research said at the event, the Global Impact Award winners “reflect the amazing range and ability of the more than 1,200 researchers and clinician scientists at UHN who day in, day out are relentless in their pursuit of pushing the boundaries of discovery in service of our patients." Read more about the winners.
  • UHN was also privileged to host Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Edinburgh, GCVO, last week as a guest of UHN Foundation. Her Royal Highness, the Royal Patron of Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, met with frontline workers, researchers, donors, staff, and patients to learn more about our work. Her Royal Highness also attended a special event for staff where she was joined by The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, as part of our Week of Gratitude. During 22 events over three days, Her Royal Highness took advantage of opportunities to try the virtual reality visual rehabilitation headset at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, play catch with stroke survivors at Toronto Rehab, learn about our Social Medicine program, and take part in ribbon cutting ceremonies for the Peter Gilgan Program in Neuroregeneration Research and the Schroeder Pain Assessment and Rehabilitation Research Clinic – and much more. Many of us at the Partners for Discovery dinner last week were grateful for Her Royal Highness' speech where she spoke about the role of our philanthropic family in helping UHN transform lives through exceptional care and discovery. On behalf of UHN, I thank UHN Foundation for the hard work in planning and orchestrating such a meaningful visit.
  • Help keep our patients and TeamUHN safe by completing UHN's Safety Culture Survey today. Results from this important initiative will help to shape innovative interventions for improvement. The survey, which is an Accreditation Canada requirement, only takes 10 minutes. Responses are completely anonymous. The survey will close on Nov. 17. Questions? Reach out to qualityandsafety@uhn.ca.
  • The Ontario government is expanding the role of Registered Nurses (RNs) who complete additional training to prescribe certain medications. Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced last week that, starting in January 2024, RNs will be able to take training programs and certification courses that will be approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario to prescribe birth control, travel medications, drugs for smoking cessation, immunizations and topical anesthetics for pain relief and wound care. Expanding RNs' scope of practice is expected to give Ontarians easier access to care and potentially reduce wait times. This moves comes after pharmacists were empowered in January to prescribe for common ailments. Learn more from the Government of Ontario.

Closing Notes

It's Transgender Awareness Week, an important time to foster understanding of the experiences and challenges of trans and gender-diverse people. I thank the 2SLGBTQIA+ Committee for organizing information tables at all UHN hospital sites this week. This group has also planned a Virtual Health Talk with Patient Education & Engagement to be released on November 20, featuring Dr. Tess Ringer, ED doctor at Toronto General, Dr. Ian Armstrong of Maple Leaf Medical Clinic, and Twitch streamer Kylie Feistmantl, discussing the barriers trans people often face in health care and advice on how to be a better ally. This will culminate with a Trans Day of Remembrance service on Nov. 20. Visit the 2SLGBTQIA+ Committee website for more information and resources.

Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day was marked across North America on  Nov. 9, giving us an opportunity to recognize the exceptional service Genetic Counsellors provide across UHN. Genetic counsellors are health professionals with specialized training and expertise in medical genetics, genomics, and counselling. In the era of personalized medicine, their knowledge and skills are increasingly essential in helping patients, families and other healthcare providers interpret and understand complex genetic information. There are almost 20 genetic counsellors working across UHN, in the Genetics Program (the Fred A. Litwin Family Centre in Genetic Medicine and the Bhalwani Familial Cancer Clinic), Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (TGH), Wallace-McCain Centre for Pancreatic Cancer (PM), GoodHope EDS Clinic (TGH), Hepatobiliary Oncology Program (TGH), KNC Epilepsy Genetics Clinic (TWH), Elisabeth Raab Neurofibromatosis Clinic (TGH/TWH) and the Department of Lab Medicine, Genome Diagnostics.

Sunday was World Pneumonia Day, an annual event encouraging global action about the largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia, a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs, can be caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. More than 740,000 children under five died of this preventable and treatable disease in 2019, according to the World Health Organization, with deaths highest in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Older adults are also at greater risk from pneumonia, particularly those exposed to air pollution or smoking. At UHN, pneumonia is a frequent cause of illness and admission in our immunosuppressed patients, including transplant and oncology patients, and one of the most common causes of GIM admission. We salute all those across UHN who treat those dealing with pneumonia with compassionate and exceptional care.

November 14 is World Diabetes Day. This year's theme, "Access to diabetes care," highlights how millions of people still lack access to care, technologies and support for this chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the body cannot effectively respond to the insulin. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks, and lower limb amputation. Roughly 30 per cent of admitted UHN patients have diabetes, impacting most clinical programs but particularly cardiac, organ transplant, and cancer units. In UHN's Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, patients receive multidisciplinary diabetes care from a team of endocrinologists, nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and dietitians, under the leadership of Dr. Gary Lewis, Division Head; Dr. Phil Segal, Clinical Lead; Joanne Zee, Clinical Director, and Jacqueline Cooper, Nurse Manager. UHN is also boasts leading diabetes research, headed by Dr. Tony Lam as the Metabolism Group Lead at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, and the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, directed by Dr. Minna Woo.

The Michener Institute of Education at UHN will host an interesting panel on November 21, entitled "Apprenticeships: An Innovative Solution to Health Human Resource (HHR) Challenges." The event, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m., will feature a panel of health care leaders discussing how apprenticeships could help solve today's critical HHR challenges. Register here.

And now… our video of the week. This clip celebrates UHN's fantastic Medical Radiation Technologists.


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Have a good week,


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