​I never run out of reasons to praise our staff. But I imagine it’s possible to forget how exceptional our teams truly are without some context and outside perspective. So allow me to share some. 

A symposium on inter-sectoral care and population health was held at Women’s College Hospital last week. Pauline Pariser (Associate Medical Director, Primary Care Lead) helped organized this and shared the following note:

“I wanted to let you know that there was discussion of how marginalized people are generally treated in the ED [Emergency Department]. It was noteworthy to me that the Toronto Western ED was held up as the exception. The panelists spoke of compassion and highly skilled nurses who treated this population with dignity. It was so clearly a difference from usual practice that I asked the question of the panelists as to what we might need to replicate as best practice for other emergency rooms.”

Audience members included folks from the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network), the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other hospitals. That we are consistently able to lead by example—even while managing the stress that our EDs are under—is something we should all be proud of. Thank you to our ED teams for consistently going above and beyond.

My next comment touches on something less positive, however, I’m glad to say that the connecting thread is the excellent work from our staff. For those who may not know, three cases of Listeria infection were traced back to the Druxy’s in Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. This is an issue solely governed by Toronto Public Health (you can read their update here) and only concerns that specific Druxy’s location. However, recognizing that this news may cause distress, we advised patients experiencing symptoms to contact the clinic triage/telephone line where the oncology RN will assess and advise of next steps. Although the decision on closing and re-opening sits outside the control of UHN, I want to acknowledge the work led by IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control)—specifically under the leadership of Medical Director Dr. Susy Hota—as well as the Switchboard, Security, Princess Margaret staff and Public Affairs. The teamwork here was simply terrific. Thank you to everyone involved.  

Speaking of teamwork, representatives from all hospital sites gathered to test out Code Silver, the newest addition to the list of standardized Emergency Preparedness Colour Codes for Ontario hospitals. The code refers to an active shooter. We learned a lot as an organization and on what we can do to better prepare all our sites for various codes moving forward. My perspective is that we need to do this type of exercise more often to ensure we are able to respond effectively—not just at the site level but as a unified network. I’d like to acknowledge our Emergency Preparedness team for facilitating this exercise in partnership with so many others.

Emergency Preparedness exercise

(Snapshots from our Emergency Preparedness exercise: Toronto Rehab’s Command Centre, the impacted site in the exercise; UHN Command Centre)​​

I’ll wrap up this week’s message with two UHN-wide updates:

1) We’re making a focused effort to support transparency across all programs. Much of this work is led by our newly created Relations Management committee headed by Leah Daniels and Camille Lemieux. Brad Wouters (EVP, Science and Research), Bella Martin (Chief Legal Officer) and I flew with the team to Austin last week to attend a two-day Conflict of Interest (COI) management conference. It was useful to hear how U.S. academic hospitals approach this matter—we’ll be keeping this information in mind as UHN works with TAHSN (Toronto Academic Health Science Network) to implement a COI disclosure and management policy over the next 12 months at TAHSN hospitals.

2) We’re approaching a future where UHN staff will be able to use real-time data to support decision-making and operational needs. Darlene Dasent (VP, Chief Financial Officer) and Larry Baldachin (EVP, Chief Business Officer) are working with their teams to transform our finance reporting procedures, which will allow UHN to meet the needs of all teams. I attended their Finance transformation workshop last week and feel excited about the road ahead.

That’s all for now. Have a good week, everyone.


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