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

  • Last week, the provincial government unveiled its three-step plan to improve wait times for surgeries, including the use of public funding to expand the number and range of procedures at some community-based centres, beginning with cataract operations. The provincial government has pledged that all of these surgical procedures will be covered for patients under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and left the door open to for-profit and not-for-profit providers. It is understandable that there is apprehension about this evolution. As I told journalists last week, while the devil is always in the details, this signalled a willingness from the government to experiment with new models to tackle pressing problems. By focusing on day surgeries – low acuity procedures that can be cancelled in a hospital setting because of staffing pressures – I believe this approach could help clear the surgical backlog, get patients the procedures they need quicker, and allow hospitals to focus on critical and complex procedures while protecting universal access. It is my recommendation that the government now strike an expert panel to help craft safeguards so that this approach does not unintentionally contribute to health human resources (HHR) strains and prevent other unintended consequences. I look forward to working with the government, system partners, and potential centres to develop a framework that will maintain confidence in our public system, particularly when it comes to staffing and quality assurance. Learn more about the plan on the Government of Ontario website.
  • The Ontario government is also planning legislation for next month it says will allow healthcare workers already registered or licensed in other provinces and territories to immediately begin practicing in Ontario. The government says its approach seeks to help healthcare workers overcome bureaucratic delays that have made it difficult to practice in the province. While details are scarce at the moment and we will no doubt have more to say on the topic later, I am always eager to work with provincial partners on any innovative ideas to tackle HHR challenges. Learn more about the proposal here.
  • I am also encouraged by reports that the federal government and provinces are inching closer to a potential landmark healthcare funding agreement. According to The Globe and Mail, the federal government and provinces are negotiating a 10-year funding deal that would reportedly boost federal health transfers and include bilateral agreements in areas such as long-term care, with provinces potentially agreeing to new accountability measures, such as sharing more health data with the feds. As I said in an update in July, this debate is about more than money. It is really about how we best serve our patients, who deserve real action from all governments instead of continued rhetoric. With a federal budget expected in the next two months, we look forward to an expected deal over the next few weeks. For UHN, it's equally important that expanded funding for research is part of this important discussion. Canada is falling behind in competitive research funding and this puts us at significant risk. Read The Globe story for more on this matter.
  • UHN's clinical transformation continues this week with the official kick-off of the Specialty Phase of the Synapse project which includes the implementation of two new Epic modules: Beaker Anatomical Pathology and Wisdom Dentistry. Implementing these two Epic modules means more integrated patient care across UHN programs, and a more comprehensive single source of truth for patients and their care teams. Wisdom Dentistry and Beaker Anatomical Pathology are expected to go-live in the Fall of 2023, and Spring of 2024 respectively. Visit the Synapse site for more information on the Specialty phase of the project.
  • UHN is in the process of strengthening our employee experience and better preparing our people for the future of work. We understand it's been a very challenging past few years, and we know it is time for change. Our People Survey will help us better understand what currently makes UHN a great place to work and where we can do better. We want to hear from you. Your voice is critical to designing a path forward for our workforce that is future-focused, impactful, and actionable. To access the survey, please click the link below. The survey will remain open until February 3rd. The survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete. The data we collect is 100 percent confidential and results are only reported in summary form only. If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Christopher Aiken, Leader, Strategy & Planning for People & Culture at UHN People Survey Link:
  • I was so happy to begin my series of site visits last week, giving me the privilege to meet with some of the terrific teams that make UHN run. I was pleased to have a chance to check in on the Toronto Western Emergency Department, as well as the UHN Connect team and security team at Toronto General. As I mentioned in my last update, I will be visiting different sites on Tuesdays and Thursdays this year, at various times. My office will let managers know in advance. I look forward to learning more about the work that TeamUHN is doing and how we can constantly improve our already excellent hospital network.
  • Don't miss this beautiful story about how a mother diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer while eight months pregnant was later saved by her husband's liver donation and an innovative procedure at UHN's Ajmera Transplant Centre. Dr. Gonzalo Sapisochin, a transplant surgeon at Ajmera Transplant Centre, advised Natalie Theron to consider a living liver transplant. Natalie's husband, Dave, ended up being the ideal candidate and donated a portion of his liver to save her life. Natalie and Dr. Sapisochin recently discussed living liver transplants on the "Living Transplant" podcast, which takes listeners behind the scenes at the Ajmera Transplant Centre. "Thank you for giving me my life back," she told Dr. Sapisochin. The episode can be downloaded on Apple, Spotify, Amazon, or wherever you get your podcasts. Read the full story at UHN News.

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 Thursday, Jan. 19.

Strategy Refresh Update

  • Background: UHN's 2019-2023 Strategic Plan details our purpose, vision, and the organization's shared priorities across care, research, and education. In November, representatives from the Corporate Strategy & Planning Office (CSPO) received ELF's support to start the work of refreshing the Strategic Plan with a condensed planning process and new oversight model, which includes regular updates to ELF.
  • Who Presented? Joel Montesanti (Director of Strategic Projects and Planning) and Sarah Smart (Senior Corporate Planner)

What I need to know: The CSPO will begin reaching out to internal stakeholders, starting with portfolio and program leadership, in late January and early February, to officially kick off planning activities. After consulting leading strategy literature and reviewing lessons learned through the execution of the previous Strategic Plan, the team will use a framework that seeks to foster a consistent approach and keeps discussions about execution at the forefront early in the planning process. The group will provide an informal update to the UHN Board of Trustees on February 15, with another update planned for ELF in late February on the roles and responsibilities as it relates to the executive team and relevant UHN portfolios.

Also at ELF

  • ELF also received an update from the Clinical Operations Group and Medical Leadership Committee (COG/MLC), reviewed a proposed internal audit plan for FY23-24 from KPMG, and discussed financial planning for the new year and the provincial government's strategy to reduce wait times for surgeries and procedures.

Closing Notes

Be sure to read this touching UHN News story about how the Palliative Care team at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre helped a patient fulfill his dream of publishing his mother's poetry before he passed away. With the support of TeamUHN, Raj Dhruvarajan remained well enough to publish the poems, which he hoped would connect different generations of his family, and work on an autobiography of his own life. One of his sons, Prabhu, told UHN News that accomplishing "this one last act before he passed away was very important to him." It is another important reminder that palliative care is about more than just the end of someone's life but supporting them to make the most of the time that is left. Read it here.

And now.. our TikTok of the week. This video takes us inside the renovated underground tunnel system that connects so-called "Hospital Row."


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Have a good week,


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