​​Last week I had the opportunity of touring Toronto Western with Scott Patterson (Director - Facilities, Support Services, and Redevelopment) and meeting a number of people including Joe Lopes (Facilities Manager), Paul Longo (Infrastructure Project Manager – OR Reliability), Kranti Sharma (Chief Engineer), Miriam Beckles (Support Services Manager), Danny Melo (Housekeeping Supervisor) and Judith Guthrie (Housekeeping Supervisor) all of whom hold responsibility for the smooth functioning of Toronto Western – not an easy task when parts of the building are showing their age!  What I saw on the tours:  1)  Much needed deferred facilities maintenance which we will begin to address this year and will be able to do more with part of our OR and surgical services redevelopment.  2)  Ongoing challenges with aging facilities but the team had a wealth of creative ideas to replace, clean up and modernize the physical plants including ideas about how to use under-utilized space.  3)  Outdated design for linen supplies and inventory management, but on the road to the implementation of technology that will bring things up to date.  4) Outdated patient transport flow design which we seek to change as we explore options during the master facilities planning process.  My thanks for the tours and a commitment to helping move things forward.

I also  want to recognize the work of everyone in the Emergency Departments at both sites as you are seeing a very large  number of patients. And, my thanks to all of our staff on the units who have ensured that we get admitted patients to units upstairs as quickly as possible. It takes the efforts of everyone and  I can only hope that the flu surge we are seeing will not go higher in the weeks ahead. While you are coping, I know that this is stressful and we are doing what we can to advocate with the Toronto Central – Local Health Integration Network and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. They know that this is a tough flu season and the opening of Hillcrest and additional funds have been more than welcome. They are also aware that the pressures on the system will continue, just as we will continue to advocate for permanent funding.

Last week the Smoking Cessation Team did a lot of work to raise awareness of the resources available to you if you want to quit smoking. As a respirologist, I can't help but add my voice to their efforts because I see the end result of smoking far too often in the form of COPD, lung cancers, and other related issues. The Team has made me aware that they received a number of e-mails letting them know that the image on our screen last week of a cigarette was a trigger for some people who have quit and that the team regrets having used that image. It underlines just how powerful an addiction smoking is, and that images and words can trigger cravings.  If you want information on what's available to help you quit, click here and all I can say is just keep trying to quit. The research tells us that the more often you try to quit, the greater the chance that you will succeed.

I'll close this week's message by thanking Brad Wouters and the team in Research for scheduling a number of Town Halls so that everyone at UHN can hear what's planned in Research and how the Research Support Services portfolio has been reorganized and integrated with a number of hospital departments.​ I will be attending today's event which will be held at Toronto Western at 11 in the BMO Conference Centre.  The next one will be on February 5 in TG's DeGasperis Conservatory.


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