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

  • UHN's mandatory vaccine policy goes into effect on Friday, October 22. The goal is 100% vaccination among TeamUHN. At present, our data projections suggest that 209 individuals will leave UHN, but it is not too late to get vaccinated. Please work with Health Services and let your manager know that you will be vaccinated this week.
  • Climate change is one of the most significant threats to health in the 21st century. Canada's health care system is a large, resource-intensive sector of the economy, responsible for at least 4.6% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions annually. Is it time for healthcare to de-carbonize? The Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) wants to know what you think! Please take the time to complete this six question survey to share your thoughts on reducing the environmental harms of healthcare. Click here to take the survey.

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.

State of COVID-19

  • Background: COVID-19 remains stable in the community, in hospital admissions and admissions to the ICU.
  • Who presented? Susy Hota (Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control)
  • What do I need to know? Case counts, hospital admissions and admissions to the ICUs remain low. However, it is important to note that over 50 patients remain at UHN who are no longer active COVID cases but have the ongoing effects of infection with the virus. This is a reminder that our best protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and continue with all public health measures.

Virtual Open Forum

The Virtual Open Forum featured presentations on progress of our mandatory vaccination policy, update on COVID-19 in hospitals and in the community and a variety of topics addressed during the Question and Answer session, which included:

  • Questions about when the flu vaccine campaign would start. We are aiming to launch the annual flu campaign on October 27, which will run for three weeks. This year's campaign will be slightly different. TeamUHN can get your flu shot by 1) Booking an individual appointment at Health Services, 2) Managers/Leaders can book a flu cart to be stationed in their units/area for 2 hours. During flu season, you can also get a free flu shot from: your primary care provider, participating pharmacies, or some public health units. Details to book a flu vaccine appointment or flu cart will be shared later this week in an all-user email.
  • Questions about the status of vaccination of TeamUHN. I am happy to report that as of last Thursday, TeamUHN was 98% vaccinated. Our projections, as of today tell us that if the pace of vaccination keeps up, between 158 and 35 people will have chosen to leave UHN after October 22. I continue to hope that everyone will be vaccinated against COVID-19 and if you've waited to make the decision, but have had at least one dose, please let your manager know, upload your first receipt and we will work with you until you are fully vaccinated.
  • Questions about third doses, particularly for members of TeamUHN who were vaccinated early. Decisions about eligibility for third doses are made by the Ministry of Health (MOH). Please know that UHN has been advocating for third doses to be made available to those who were vaccinated with a vaccine labelled with a 21 to 28 day window between doses. Subsequent research has demonstrated that a longer time between doses has proved beneficial in creating a longer immune response. When the MOH announces any changes in eligibility we immediately post the information on the website and will do what we can to make it easier for members of TeamUHN to get a third dose, if that is made possible.

Overview of last week

World First - Drone Transport of Lungs

  • Background: Work has been ongoing to test the possibility of moving donor lungs by drone. Last week, it was announced that the first successful movement of lungs and transplantation occurred from UHN's Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital with resulting international media. It would not have been possible without a number of test flights, a company with a strong track record with drones, and the commitment of Dr. Shaf Keshavjee's team to finding a better way.
  • What happened last week? A drone recently delivered lungs from UHN's Toronto Western Hospital to Toronto General Hospital.
  • What do I need to know? While the flight was short, the transplant was successful and the first patient took part in the media around the drone flight. The goal is to fly organs much longer distances, but it all started with the short flight from TWH to TGH's roof.

Closing notes

October 16 was World Spine Day. Thanks to our colleagues across UHN who are enhancing care for spinal cord patients everywhere. Toronto Rehab's Lyndhurst Centre is the largest spinal cord rehabilitation program in the country and is recognized as a world leader in SCI rehabilitation. The team at Lyndhurst consists of 20 different health professions that work with patients and their families during inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation to achieve goals and maximize quality of life. Some members of the team, led by Dr. Cathy Craven, are part of a first-ever, cross-Canada network, to implement best practices in Spinal Cord Rehabilitation. At Krembil Brain Institute, our world class team sees 25 cases per year of traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) and 200 cases per year of non-traumatic spinal cord injury (mainly due to degenerative cervical myelopathy). In Canada, there are an estimated 44,000 people living with a traumatic SCI and approximately 1,800 new cases each year. Dr. Michael Fehlings also co-leads the U of T Spine Program, which implements frameworks for innovation and excellence in the delivery of spine care and the translation of research. Over the past two decades, the program has trained over 125 clinical and research fellows from both Canada and around the world.

October 15 was Global Handwashing Day. This is a day dedicated to educating and reminding ourselves of the importance of proper hand hygiene and the vital role it plays in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Thank you, TeamUHN, for practicing proper hand hygiene throughout your day to help keep everyone safe.

Season 3 of UHN's podcast Behind the Breakthrough launched last week. This season you'll hear from award-winning scientists about their ground breaking medical research, from a world-first discovery that confirmed a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine significantly boosts protection for transplant patients, to understanding how cancer cells evade chemotherapy by going into "hibernation." Season 3 of the podcast also showcases pioneering investigations into new diagnostic tools such as computer vision to better detect pain and prevent falls in the elderly, as well as the potential of deep brain stimulation to treat Alzheimer's patients, and the use of nanotechnology to eradicate cancer. Listen to new episodes every Tuesday HERE or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


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Have a good week,

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