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 want to wish a Happy Valentine's Day to all members of TeamUHN (and remind you there's still time to organize something special for your loved ones if you've forgotten!) It's appropriate that this occasion is celebrated in the middle of Heart Month, a time to focus on the importance of cardiovascular health and laud our incredible team at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre.
  • I'd also like to again express my gratitude to all members of TeamUHN who came into work over the weekend while another protest took place around Queen's Park. As I have said before, people have a right to peacefully express themselves in a democracy. But we will never waver from supporting science and saying clearly that vaccination is the best way to avert the kinds of significant health issues that lead to hospitalization.
  • People & Culture is making an urgent request for nurses and some Allied Health professions to pick up additional shifts, including overtime shifts, to help alleviate the crunch still being felt in clinical units. If you're considering doing so, please make sure you're doing so having considered your welllness. More information on how you can submit your name for consideration, including a scheduling template for nurses, has been posted on the People & Culture COVID-19 Intranet site. (People & Culture > COVID-19 Information > Call Out to Nursing & Allied Health Staff).
  • The Government of Ontario lifted Directive #2 on Thursday to begin the gradual resumption of non-urgent, non-emergent surgeries and procedures that were paused early last month in the thick of the Omicron wave. The province has indicated that the resumption of such surgeries will follow a phased approach across Ontario, aligning with guidance from Ontario Health and oversight by Regional Officers working with local hospitals. UHN has focused on urgent and emergent cases throughout the pandemic to ensure that the most critical cases could be done. No one – especially patients, our dedicated surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, or other members of the surgical team – were pleased to see scheduled surgeries delayed, so this is encouraging news.
  • As we discussed at the last Open Forum, a framework established by IPAC and Health Services will guide UHN's return to on-site activities, such as meetings and on-site staffing. This framework will be adjusted according to local COVID-19 activity. The three categories – green, yellow, and red – are determined by the number of COVID cases among staff over a consecutive five-day period, the per cent positivity rate among staff, the pandemic's overall trajectory and other factors such as emerging variants. We are currently in the yellow category, where we encourage reducing on-site staffing by 50 per cent where possible and all in-person activities are allowed (though virtual meetings are still encouraged). The framework is posted on the Intranet and includes recommendations on how to hold gatherings safely. (COVID-19 Preparedness > IPAC > Education, Meetings, and Social Gathering Recommendations).

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In response to COVID-19, UHN has re-activated its Executive COVID-19 IMS (Incident Management System) table and we are meeting on a twice weekly basis. Membership includes our Executive Leadership Forum and other members of COVID-19 work streams. This is a snapshot of the discussions this past week.

Provinces lifting restrictions

  • Background: Several provinces have begun to lift more public health restrictions which could signal an overall direction in which the country is headed. Jurisdictions are moving at different paces to loosen restrictions, with some drastic changes in certain provinces that will be watched closely.
  • Who presented? Susy Hota (Medical Director, IPAC)
  • What do I need to know? Saskatchewan will end its proof-of-vaccination policy for businesses and public venues today, Feb. 14, and remove both its mandatory masking mandate in indoor spaces and requirement for mandatory self-isolation for COVID-positive individuals at the end of the month. Alberta has also scrapped its vaccine passport and ended masking requirements in schools. Other provinces, such as Ontario, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island, are starting or expected to start a slower lifting of restrictions. The impact of these changes on health care is unclear, given that in Ontario we still have high levels of COVID-related hospitalizations and ICU admissions. We will have to watch how this situation unfolds and be prepared to pivot if needed.

Closing Notes

Epic is a dynamic and powerful health information system that will be a needed tool to transform UHN's clinical mission for both patients and staff. Preparing to use Epic includes ensuring we have the right hardware necessary for optimal benefit from EPIC. From larger monitors to barcode scanners to label printers and beyond, UHN has invested in new equipment that is currently being deployed and tested through a process called Technical Dress Rehearsal. Also this month, members of the Synapse team will be visiting units at every site to demonstrate some of the new devices. The End-User Device Roadshow is a valuable opportunity for staff to get hands-on experience and ask questions about some of the devices. Learn more about the roadshow here.

Last week, the Michener Institute of Education at UHN signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the province of Nova Scotia indicating the intent to enable students from that province to enrol in some of Michener's academic programs. This MOU aims to address the shortage of health human resources in Nova Scotia and across Canada, which represents the most acute challenge to the viability and capacity of our health care system. As Nova Scotia's Minister of Advanced Education said in last week's news release, "The Michener Institute is a world-renowned training provider that has an impressive track-record." I congratulate the Michener team on achieving this partnership and helping the rest of Canada benefit from Michener's unique expertise.

February 14 is National Cardiology Technologist Day! Please join me in celebrating this specialized group of health care professionals who are on the front lines of cardiovascular care. Registered Cardiology Technologists (RCTs) perform a variety of tests essential to determine the severity and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including electrocardiograms, stress tests, cardiac device monitoring, and more. A huge thank you to these dedicated individuals.

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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