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

  • Welcome back to the "New Year," which for an Academic Centre begins in September! Deepest thanks to each of you who worked over the long weekend in service of our patients. As we prepare for the Fall we're all aware of how fragile things are across the health care system and we'll do our collective best to meet the needs of our patients and families while being mindful of the demands, and the impact, on TeamUHN wellbeing.
  • Ontario has expanded COVID-19 booster eligibility to children aged 5 to 11. UHN Connected Care and the Toronto Western Family Health Team will again host vaccination clinics, starting this evening and continuing on Saturdays and Sundays at the Bathurst Street site – 440 Bathurst St., 3rd floor of the FreshCo building. Clinics are open to all members of the public, including families of TeamUHN members and all Mid-West OHT partner organizations. Book your appointment here. Parents and caregivers can also book appointments through the provincial vaccine portal, their local health units, and participating pharmacies or health providers. Eligible children can receive their first booster shot at an interval of six months after their first booster dose. Don't forget that SickKids Hospital has a vaccine consult service for children under 18 and/or their parents and caregivers. Visit COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a confidential phone appointment with a SickKids clinician.
  • While Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health has updated his public health guidance ahead of respiratory illness season this fall, there is no change to UHN's COVID-19 staff protocol. Ontario is removing the five-day mandatory isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19, though those who test positive are urged to avoid high-risk settings such as long-term care homes and mask while in public for 10 days. UHN is not changing current guidelines for staff, both clinical and non-clinical, with COVID-19. TeamUHN members must self-screen before coming to work, report symptoms to Health Services, and follow their guidance for isolation and return to work. UHN will continue our universal masking policy at all sites. All of this is being done to help protect the health and safety of staff and the patients we are privileged to serve. Health Services' COVID-19 Toolkit for Staff is available online and questions can be sent to Health Services at COVIDOHS@uhn.ca. Read more about the expanded booster eligibility and updated guidance on the Government of Ontario website.
  • On Thursday, Health Canada approved Moderna's updated COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant for use in adults. This marks the first time the regulator has authorized a booster specifically targeting the Omicron variant. The bivalent shot induced "significantly higher responses" to the Omicron BA.1 virus compared to Moderna's original vaccine, according to Health Canada. While the shot does not specifically target the BA.4 or BA.5 strains, Health Canada says the booster also generates "a good immune response" against the subvariants and is "expected to extend the durability of protection." Moderna will supply 12 million doses of the Omicron-specific shot to Canada. Learn more about this vaccine from Health Canada.
  • UHN will host Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, President and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, for a special visit this Thursday, Sept. 8.Dr. Farrugia will deliver a guest lecture, "Mayo Clinic: Excellence, Leadership, and Transformation in Health Care," from 8 to 9 a.m. in the MaRS Building Auditorium at 101 College Street. Those interested in attending this in-person event can RSVP by contacting Sharon Wright at Sharon.Wright@uhn.ca. Attending virtually? Watch at 8:00 a.m. on the LIVE LINK. Learn more about the lecture and Dr. Farrugia's work by downloading a copy of his biography right here.
  • TeamUHN is invited to a special event this Friday, Sept. 9 to learn more about the plants in the Gitigan (garden) at the Michener Institute for Education at UHN. The Indigenous Health Program (IHP) and Michener Gitigan Committee, in collaboration with Miinikaan Innovation and Design, is presenting a learning opportunity, "'Weeds' as Food and Medicine," hosted by Carolynne Crawley, a Mi'kmaw environmental justice advocate. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Michener Gitigan at McCaul and Elm Streets. Stay tuned for more IHP events in September, including a commemoration of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • I am pleased to welcome Melanie Johnston, who joins The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation as Chief Marketing Officer, beginning today (Sept. 6). Melanie comes to the PMCF from Forsman & Bodenfors Canada, where she was the CEO and global board member. With more than 20 years of experience building brands, creating world-class communications, driving revenue, and mentoring talent, Melanie is a welcome addition to the team. She will lead the development of the PMCF's brand strategy, position, and personality, and will also work closely with UHN leaders to ensure our respective brand strategies, personalities, and creative complement one another. Melanie is known for her collaborative leadership style, personal commitment to advancing women and other equity-seeking groups in the marketing profession, and has a deep personal connection to cancer and to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, spanning multiple generations and family members.

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 UHN.ca. The last ELF meeting was held on August 18, 2022.

Construction Management

  • Background and why this was brought to ELF: As UHN continues to grow in exciting ways – including with the Toronto Western Hospital New Patient Tower – we are always looking at ways to ensure construction projects are completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. ELF was asked to endorse an approach for the TWH patient tower build that would invoke Construction Management Methodology with a Guaranteed Maximum Price.
  • Who Presented? Ian McDermott (Executive Director, Planning & Integration, FM-PRO) and Rebecca Repa (Executive Vice President, Clinical Support & Performance)
  • What do I need to know: The plan was unanimously endorsed by ELF. Construction Management Methodology means that the construction and design activities for the TWH patient tower will happen at the same time, shaving more than two years off of the project schedule, targeted for completion by the end of 2026. In the traditional approach with the Ministry of Health, the design happens first and then we must wait for approval to move into construction. This strategy will mean greater transparency when it comes to schedule and budget. A Guaranteed Maximum Price will also yield financial certainty, and a strong governance structure where scope changes are considered only at the executive level is expected to help further streamline the process so that the tower can be completed and opened quicker.

Closing Notes

Congratulations to Judith (Judy) Kaldor on her retirement from UHN after nearly 44 years. Judy started working at UHN in November 1978 as a student in the blood transfusion laboratory at the Toronto Hospital. After completing her training as a Medical Laboratory Technologist, she began her career at the blood transfusion laboratory at the Toronto Hospital. Judy witnessed many changes in her almost 44 years at UHN. The blood transfusion laboratory transitioned from all manual testing and paper documentation to automated testing and electronic documentation, which meant she had to pivot and learn new processes. Judy always found her way through difficult times. She was working when the first liver transplant patient came to the hospital in 1985 and often reminisced about the large number of blood products prepared for this procedure in comparison to today's preparations. Judy also saw the transformation and amalgamation of Toronto Hospital (now Toronto General) with the Toronto Western, The Doctor's Hospital, and Princess Margaret Hospital to form UHN as we know it today. The laboratory service also went through its metamorphosis from Toronto Medical Laboratories to Laboratory Medicine Program. During Judy's career in the blood transfusion laboratory, she transitioned from a student to a bench technologist to a senior laboratory technologist. Once she started to raise a family she stepped down as a senior laboratory technologist and went to a part-time bench technologist position to spend more time with her husband and two children. She would remain as a part-time technologist for over 30 years with the majority of her time spent at Princess Margaret. No matter the position or challenges in her way, she would always rise to the occasion. She came to work with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. Over the years she mentored new technologists on how to manage the stressful day-to-day work in the blood transfusion laboratory. The lab thanks Judy for her many years of service and contributions. We wish her all the best in her well-deserved retirement!

August 31 was International Overdose Day, which again shone a light on the public health crisis of opioid-related deaths in this country. The Public Health Agency of Canada recorded more than 7,500 apparent opioid toxicity deaths last year, representing 21 deaths per day. UHN's Dr. Hasan Sheik, an Emergency and addictions physician, is at the forefront of this battle as our first Medical Lead for Substance Use Services. As Dr. Sheikh told UHN News last week, patients struggling with the illness of substance use disorder often face stigmas and discrimination, including from healthcare workers, that serve as barriers to getting treatment. "If you give people hope that we can make a difference in someone's life it really breaks through that barrier," he said. UHN is committed to removing the stigma of substance use disorder in all of our services, including the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic and Addiction Outpatient Services. Read the UHN News story to learn more about how Dr. Sheikh and others are raising awareness in TeamUHN about the evidence-based tools available to help patients break the cycle of substance use, such as medications for opioid and alcohol use disorder, as well as build more capacity for integrated care.

September is Arthritis Awareness Month, a chance to reflect on what has become the most common disease in Canada with at least six million Canadians – one in five adults – living with its painful effects. A collection of conditions that are most often characterized by inflammation of the joints and other parts of the body, arthritis is a top cause of long-term disability in the country. We are grateful that UHN's world-class Schroeder Arthritis Institute, located at Toronto Western Hospital, is Canada's largest multidisciplinary arthritis hub dedicated to taking on this challenge. The institute boasts both exceptional care and bold research, with clinicians and scientists working together to find new treatments. The Institute promotes innovation, new thinking, research, education, and care through its programs for Osteoporosis and Hand conditions, as well as its divisions of Orthopedics and Rheumatology. With more than 50 scientists and clinician scientists, more than 100 trainees and 200 staff, the Institute is revolutionizing arthritis care and advancing the discoveries that will hopefully lead to a cure.

Last week, The Michener Institute of Education at UHN hosted its Orientation to kick off the academic year and welcome new students to the school. This annual event provides Michener's incoming students with a chance to connect with their classmates and future colleagues, and equip them with information and tools that will help support their success both inside and outside of the classroom. In accordance with current provincial COVID-19 guidelines, this year's Orientation activities were held in a hybrid format and included opportunities to meet their faculty and support areas at Michener, along with an escape room, a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a trip to The Rec Room to name a few.

A new study from the Specialized Dementia Unit (SDU) at Toronto Rehab is exploring how wearable technology can help nurses monitor patients and deliver more patient-centred care. Patients on the SDU wear digital wristbands to collect real-time location data that is sent to an iPad, allowing nurses to locate patients on a map and address potential safety issues before they escalate. Dr. Andrea Iaboni, Medical Director for the SDU and lead scientist in the Dementia Rehab Group, told UHN News her group hopes to use the data to "measure individual patterns over time" to see how patients are responding to interventions on the unit. Read all about this project on UHN News.


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Have a good week,

Kevin

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