Dear Colleagues,

Last week, Cowessess First Nation announced the uncovering of 751 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. The identified graves are presumed to hold mostly Indigenous children, many of whom were buried without the knowledge of their families. This horrific news comes less than a month after similar announcements on the west coast. My thoughts are with the families, survivors, and all Indigenous peoples and communities as we continue to come to terms with the scope of this tragedy, and the truly shameful and racist systems that have been part of Canada's nation-building process. There will certainly be more discoveries like this one across the country — a painful reminder of what nation-building and the process of colonization have cost Indigenous peoples and communities. This moment highlights the need for ongoing work to grapple with historic and ongoing harm to Indigenous communities. Continued funding and searches to uncover the many truths that Indigenous communities have known and been sharing for years is needed now, and all of us must support these actions. 

As stated in the Summary of the Final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada, “reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one. Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered," and that requires much more than just the acknowledgment of past wrongs. We all have much learning to do about our history, about its ongoing reverberations in Indigenous lives today, and about its impacts in fundamental areas such as health care. As a health care organization, we have a duty to work to actively dismantle the systemic anti-Indigenous racism that still exists in our health care systems — and at UHN, we are committed to working with the Indigenous Health Program to advance Indigenous health equity.

Key reminders and updates

  • Tomorrow on Tuesday, June 29 (12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) – Virtual Open Forum on COVID-19.
    • Shout out a colleague or team! Submit your recognition for TeamUHN here or go to Slido.com and search for #ThanksUHN. Reminder to please include your full name in order to have your comment accepted.
    • Submit questions here or enter #UHNCOVID-19x49 on Slido.com. Including your full name will help support transparency and collegiality at UHN. If you feel vulnerable in posting your name in order to ask a question, please privately email either Gillian.Howard@UHN or Kevin.smith@uhn.ca. We will follow up with you privately or respond to the question in the Open Forum without attributing to you.
    • Livestream link here (Chrome/Firefox).
  • Congratulations, Team Vaccine, on a successful Toronto Vaccine Day! This past Sunday, history was made when 26,771 COVID-19 vaccines were administered at the 'Our Winning Shot' Clinic – the most vaccinations given in a single day at one location anywhere in the world. The event took place at Scotiabank Area in partnership with the City of Toronto, Scotiabank, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Michael Garron Hospital, and UHN. Thank you to all of the volunteers across the city who supported the event, and to the many members of TeamUHN who worked to make this happen. It was exciting to see so many people there working to make it a huge success and so many Torontonians stepping up to keep themselves, their friends and family, and the greater community safer.
  • Expanding access for Essential Care Partners (ECPs) and visitors. As the number of active COVID-19 cases admitted to UHN continues to decline, I have opened a discussion with Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) colleagues about how we can safely re-visit UHN's Visitor Policy. We know how important it is to have loved ones visit and offer support during difficult times, but we must put the safety of patients and staff first. COVID-19 is still among us, especially with the presence of the Delta variant, so we must proceed with caution. One option is to implement rapid testing of ECPs and visitors who are not vaccinated, which aligns with the approach taken in long-term care homes. We will provide more information on this as it becomes available.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to 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.

Federal Policy on International Travel

  • Background: Last week Canada's federal government updated its restrictions on international travel. That announcement is available here.
  • Who presented? John Granton (Interim Medical Director, Health Services)
  • What do I need to know?
    • Effective July 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET, fully vaccinated travellers who are permitted to enter Canada will not be subject to the federal requirement to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test on day eight. However, these travellers are required to have a negative PCR test prior to departure and a negative PCR test upon arrival to Canada.
    • The Government of Canada continues to advise all individuals to "avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice." UHN will continue to follow this recommendation to ensure the safety of staff and patients.
    • The Government of Canada has extended, the temporary travel restrictions on discretionary (non-essential) international travel, including to the United States, until July 21, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET. UHN will review and update any new guidance when it becomes available.

COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Home Testing Policy

  • Background: All staff who have not registered their COVID-19 vaccination status have been asked to contact Health Services and register one of the following:
    • I have been vaccinated (with proof of both doses).
    • I will not be vaccinated.
    • I cannot be vaccinated – medical reasons with documentation from physician.
    • I will not be registering my vaccination status with Health Services.
  • Thank you to the 15,000 members of TeamUHN who have already informed Health Services of their vaccination status. If you haven't reported yet, please let Health Services know here.
  • Who presented? Brad Wouters (Executive Vice President, Science and Research)
  • What do I need to know? In the weeks ahead, we will start the process of distributing home test kits to staff whose vaccination status is unknown. Starting July 5, all staff will need to be vaccinated or attest to having completed a home test 48 hours before coming to a UHN site and reporting the results to UHN. This is being done to keep all our sites as safe as possible for patients, families, and all of TeamUHN.

Overview of last week

Outbreak on 6A Fell at Toronto Western Hospital

  • Background: Last Monday, an All Users email was sent to advise TeamUHN of a COVID-19 outbreak on Toronto Western Hospital's (TWH) 6A Fell unit, and that the majority of the outbreak associated cases are the Delta variant. The encouraging news is that the symptoms are mild in all cases, but it is clear that the Delta variant is increasing in the community and that vaccination, in conjunction with following all public health measures, will be critical in the months ahead. It is of note that for the patients, the infection was nosocomial and that the patients were in hospital for other health conditions.
  • What happened last week? Details about this outbreak were widely circulated by media outlets, and is of relevance to Torontonians so that getting vaccinated and continuing to follow all prescribed public health measures continue to be top of mind.
  • What do I need to know? Vaccination is critical to reduce both the severity of COVID-19 and risk of hospitalization. If you haven't had your vaccinations, register now so that we can get all of TeamUHN vaccinated before July – when UHN plans to stop running mass vaccination clinics. UHN will continue to vaccinate inpatients as needed, and provide vaccinations to new staff through Health Services.

Closing notes

  • Congratulations to Deborah Wilson on her retirement after 44 years at UHN! Deborah first started working at Toronto General Hospital (TGH) in 1977 as a Ward Aid. Since then, she has worked as a Housekeeper, Ward Clerk in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and a Coordinator in Critical Care at TGH. For the past 19 years, Deborah has been a Coordinator in the Division of General Surgery at TGH. Thank you, Deborah, for your service and dedication to excellence and care for UHN patients!

Feedback?

Your feedback is welcome and valued. Please reply directly to me or leave anonymous feedback here.

Have a good week,

Kevin


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