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 

  • Many of us are thinking about how best to help Ukraine and the citizens suffering through this War and wondering what we can do collectively as TeamUHN. We have reached out to the Government of Canada to offer our support for refugees as they arrive in Canada. I am very happy to say that Ed Rubinstein and Lisa Vanlint and their Energy & Environment team are leading an initiative to secure medical supplies through Operation Green. The goal is to collect usable surplus medical supplies for donation, keeping them out of the landfill and putting them in communities around the globe that need them. Our present focus will be Ukraine. This month, they are working with Not Just Tourists and the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation to send these supplies to the Ukraine. If you are thinking about making a cash donation, the best advice is to choose charities with experience working in disaster zones, as they have the ability and knowledge to get up and running as quickly as possible. The Canadian government is matching donations to the C​anadian Red Cross, up to $10 million.
  • Last week, Ontario Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott announced that she will not seek re-election this spring. The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health has been a superb leader during the greatest challenge to the health system of this generation. She has been a calm and rational voice of reason who consistently put the needs of patients and front-line providers first and consistently supported a science-informed and evidence-based approach. On our collective behalf, I reached out to her to express our gratitude and admiration, as well as to thank her for her support of UHN. I am so pleased that she has agreed to stay on as the province's Health Minister until the June election. Throughout her political career, the Honourable Christine Elliott has been a tireless advocate, particularly for persons with disabilities and special needs. She served as Ontario's first Patient Ombudsman before jumping back into politics in 2018 and agreeing to lead the complex health portfolio for a new government, a position that was made all the more challenging because of the pandemic.  We wish her well in her future endeavours.
  • The American Hospital Association has warned about the potential of Russian-sponsored cyberattacks on hospitals in retaliation for economic sanctions levied against Russia. Canada's Communications Security Establishment has also warned that organizations and businesses in this country could be at risk. While there has not been a UHN-specific cyber threat, we must all be extra vigilant. This means being vigilant about not opening PDFs, attachments or links from unknown sources.
You can also alert the Digital Security team if you receive a suspicious email by using the "Report Phish" button in Outlook
phishing button
  • COVID seems to be coming under control and teams are increasing capacity to resume non-critical clinical care that had to be put on hold to address the pressures of the pandemic. TeamUHN's focus – alongside increasing patient care – must now be a successful completion of Project Synapse. There are fewer than three months until the enterprise-wide go-live on the Epic health information system (HIS) and it will take the dedicated attention and collaboration of leaders and staff alike to ensure UHN has a safe and effective transition to Epic. Managers will continue to support staff readiness and we will do our utmost to enhance staff availability for training and practice. Directors and other senior leaders are very aware of key risks and issues, and will facilitate steps toward mitigation or resolution. This could mean pressing pause on some existing other projects to ensure we have a completely successful Synapse transition.
  • Starting today, gyms at Toronto General, Toronto Western, and Princess Margaret will reopen with some restrictions to gym members of TeamUHN. An online booking system is available to gym members to schedule workout sessions in each fitness centre. All details will be posted to the Wellness Homepage on the Corporate Intranet under Gym FAQs (Intranet > Wellness > Gym FAQs). I know this is welcome news for many who rely on exercise as a way to decompress and manage overall stress and well-being.

What happened at the Executive COVID-19 IMS Table

In light of our system being stable as we manage COVID-19, the UHN Executive COVID-19 IMS (Incident Management System) has paused meeting once a week but could resume meetings as needed to respond to the pandemic. However, membership, which includes our Executive Leadership Forum and other members of COVID-19 work streams, continue to share recommendations with the group.

Change in assessing thresholds for on-site gatherings and meetings

  • Background: Due to the fluctuating nature of the pandemic, IPAC and Health Services set recommendations last month for on-site gatherings based on COVID per cent positivity among staff which are summarized in Pandemic Framework for On-Site Staffing, Education Activities, Meetings, and Social Gatherings at UHN. These thresholds were used to determine the three categories to guide the size of on-site gatherings and other on-site activities, based on risks of transmission: green (business as usual), yellow and red. However, the group felt that approach was complicated by the inclusion of patients in the per-cent positivity number and did not accurately capture the number of UHN staff absent for COVID-related illnesses.
  • Who shared the recommendations? John Granton (Interim Medical Director, Health Services and Respirologist / Intensivist, UHN)
  • What do I need to know? Previously, the per-cent positivity rates included patients and did not factor in staff who tested positive on Rapid Antigen Tests or those who were tested at Altum drop-off sites. The group proposed that it would be more accurate to be guided by the number of staff members who test positive per day, with a rolling average to factor in day-to-day variability. IPAC and Health Services recommended a five-day rolling average of the daily number of staff who test positive, based on completed assessment forms to Health Services.
    non-educational on-site activities 
  • The group also recommended a threshold of < 15 cases be used to define the green zone for activities related to in-person education. The changes to this framework have been posted to the Intranet (COVID-19 Preparedness > IPAC > Education, Meetings, and Social Gathering Recommendations).
  • A reminder that we are in Phase Green of the Pandemic Framework for On-Site Staffing, Education Activities, Meetings, and Social Gatherings at UHN. In this phase, all staff may be on-site and all in-person activities are allowed. But despite changes in other settings, many public health and safety measures remain in place at UHN, including entrance screening, the vaccination policy for Essential Care Partners, and distancing at food court tables and seating. Please note, the colour status of UHN's Pandemic Phase is also subject to change should we see an increase in COVID activity as decided by IPAC and Health Services. You can read the full framework here (Corporate Intranet > COVID-19 Preparedness > IPAC > Education, Meetings and Social Gatherings Recommendations).

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, March 3, 2022.

UHN's Accreditation Update

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: UHN has good news to celebrate stemming from Accreditation Canada's on-site assessment of the hospital network in December. The surveyor team reviewed standards related to our acute care, diagnostic imaging, and medical devices and reprocessing clinical programs across Toronto General and Toronto Western.
  • Who Presented? Emily Musing (Vice President, Clinical; Chief Patient Safety Officer)
  • What do I need to know: UHN has maintained the highest accreditation status of "accredited with exemplary standing." Congratulations, TeamUHN! This is an acknowledgment and a reflection of the exemplary care provided by TeamUHN each and every day. The most recent survey took place in December, 2021, where Accreditation Canada reviewed standards pertaining to clinical programs across Toronto General and Toronto Western (Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute were reviewed two years ago). UHN was found to have met over 99% of the criteria assessed, including all required organizational practice standards (ROPs), which are the highest priority criteria. The full report will be made available shortly after involved clinical teams have had the chance to review the feedback.

Closing Notes

  • March is Music Therapy Awareness Month and a welcome opportunity to celebrate the use of music for enhancing health and well-being. Music Therapy is an evidence-based profession where credentialed music therapists provide support through the therapeutic use of music. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre's Music Therapy Program is led by certified Music Therapist SarahRose Black supporting patients and colleagues across UHN. While SarahRose is away on maternity leave, Mason Gibson is covering her position.

  • March is Liver Health Month. Thank you to the teams across UHN and community partners who care for patients and work to advance research and education in hepatology. UHN is home to the Toronto Centre for Liver Disease - Francis Family Liver Clinic which is one of the largest liver units in North America, as well as an internationally recognized Liver Transplant Program through the Ajmera Transplant Centre. These programs support patients with all types of liver disease, many of whom require complex care and long-term care. The team includes world leaders in autoimmune and fatty liver disease and they are helping to lead the charge to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The liver group has started an exciting partnership with UHN's Social Medicine Program to ensure people with liver disease, many of whom come from highly marginalized populations, get the social supports they need to improve their overall health. The clinical care, research, and education from our outstanding hepatology teams will help advance liver health here and around the world.
  • March is Kidney Health Month. Thank you to our colleagues across UHN and beyond who provide the highest level of patient care, research, and education in nephrology. UHN teams support inpatient and outpatient units with chronic kidney diseases, specialized clinics like the Cardiology-Renal-Endocrine (CaRE), Multi-Care KidneyGlomerulonephritisHereditary Kidney Disease, Onco-nephrology, Geri-nephrology clinics, and the Kidney Transplant clinic within UHN's Ajmera Transplant Centre. We also provide a complete range of kidney replacement services at multiple UHN sites including acute, in-centre, rehab (TR Bickle), and home dialysis accounting for more than 10% of all ambulatory activities at UHN. These life-sustaining therapies were up and running during the past two years, during all waves of COVID-19, and when protests and convoys created great challenges in accessing our buildings. My gratitude to all members of TeamUHN who work hard every day to support kidney health.
  • I was delighted to read this profile in The Toronto Star on Eugena Bryan, a registered nurse with Toronto Western Family Health Team, who gave Ontario's first dose of the Moderna vaccine back in December 2020. The story also touches on her journey to become a nurse. "Bryan is beloved by her patients, in part because of the extraordinary measures she's taken to remove barriers to vaccination," it reads. "She said she doesn't want logistics to get in the way of anyone receiving their vaccines."
  • (Photo credit: The Toronto Star)

  • Finally, Toronto General Hospital has yet again been named the fourth best hospital in the world in a global ranking by a market research company in partnership with Newsweek magazine. This is the third year in a row that we've been honoured with this position. We are also, once again, the only Canadian hospital in the top 10. As I told UHN News, this is "testament to the dedication and passion displayed daily by our staff, physicians, researchers, Board and volunteers." Congratulations to TGH and all members of TeamUHN on this achievement.


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Have a good week,


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