2020 Local Impact Awards logo
This year’s UHN Local Impact Award winners, who were announced at the final Virtual Open Forum of 2020, were selected from among 240 nominees across all categories. (Logo: UHN)

An astounding 240 nominations were submitted for the 2020 UHN Local Impact Awards.

“You’re all winners,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, co-chair of the awards selection committee along with Gillian Howard, Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications.

“It was the most difficult selection committee I’ve ever been part of,” Kevin said as the winners were announced on a festive and celebratory edition of the Virtual Open Forum, the last for 2020.

“Every single person in that 240 is so deserving. The challenge was great.”

In past years, the UHN Local Impact Awards have been announced at the UHN Report to the Community event in mid-June. This year, due to COVID-19, they were delayed until this week’s online event.

The format also changed, with individual and team winners in each of five categories aligned with UHN’s Strategic Priorities – Tomorrow’s Care, TeamUHN, Convergence, Technology and Innovation, Commercialization. There was also a Quality and Safety Award, and a President’s Award announced.

“If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s what it takes to actually run a place like UHN,” Gillian said. “It’s the inter-disciplinary teams that make things happen.”

And, the winners are:

Quality and Safety Award – Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team – As you all know, our primary value at UHN is the needs of patients come first, and that’s the North Star for us. Certainly, quality and safety are integral to that vision. When it comes to keeping people safe, this well-known group has gone above and beyond for all of us this year.

Local Impact Award, Tomorrow’s Care (Individual) –David Frost – He was nominated by an inter-disciplinary group which commended him for his visionary leadership, collaborative spirit and always being willing to listen. He’s also described as a role model and respected for turning challenges into opportunities for UHN. David’s colleagues say he has truly helped him survive these past nine months.

Local Impact Award, Tomorrow’s Care (Team) – 8B Fell Nursing Team – Tomorrow’s Care means adapting to what patients need and the pandemic has certainly changed how we are able to respond to those needs. Thankfully, the 8B Fell Nursing Team rose to the challenge and helped support the patient experience during wave one of the pandemic. Using resilience and creativity they quickly developed patient and staff safety protocols that served as blueprints for other units.

Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Individual) – Jacqueline Silvera – She received numerous nominations, including one describing her as a voice of inclusion, compassion and hope during this pandemic. Her voice was particularly welcome at several Virtual Open Forums where Jacquie addressed the entire organization on racism and allyship, urging kindness and resilience during difficult times. Hearing Jacqueline’s words of encouragement during this time was an important signal to the organization and meant a great deal to many individuals who know her and her work.

Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Team) – GIM Transitional Coordinators Arlee Schwartz, Andrea Gittens, Juliet D’Costa – On a personal level, these three have been the most collegial professionals and hardworking leaders one could hope for. They have made us all better. Other nominators commend their tireless work ethic and how they truly take ownership, never letting their team down. Without them, the care of patients would clearly suffer, not to mention the morale of the rest of the healthcare team.

Local Impact Award, Convergence (Individual)– Christine Cserti – She received several nominations, including one which said she exemplifies the future of healthcare and is pushing the frontiers of transfusion medicine. She’s extremely prolific academically and her research interests directly shape the field she’s chosen. She’s also noted for being highly involved in the education of staff and fellows and always willing to listen to their concerns.

Local Impact Award, Convergence (Team) – Code Delta Team – With the cancellation of surgeries in wave one, volunteers were asked to join anesthesiology colleagues as part of the early response intubation team, otherwise known as Code Delta. More than 70 volunteers came forward to join the team, and its success was due to the convergence of interprofessional care teams that use the best evidence in an emerging research field and apply best practices in education to support patients and teams. Their courage and collaboration made a huge impact during a time of great uncertainty.

Local Impact Award, Technology and Innovation (Individual) – Marijana Zubrinic – She is receiving this award for her work in developing UHN’s Telemonitoring Program. She is recognized for taking this idea from concept right through to implementation, never an easy task. This is an innovative application of technology that addresses an important need for patient safety, namely addressing the existing and growing need for constant observation of some patients. The impact of her work includes increased safety for patients through fewer falls and fewer patients pulling out lines. It also includes cost savings and stewardship.

Local Impact Award, Technology and Innovation (Team) – Andrea Somers and the Emergency Department Team –The team is receiving this award for the Phone Connect project which repurposes and distributed used mobile phones to eligible patients discharged from the ED. Its aim is to improve patient access to health and social services as well as to improve social connectivity. Since its inception at UHN, the project has expanded to include additional GTA hospital sites. Andrea and team have shown how technology can be unleased in creative ways to help address health inequities.

Local Impact Award, Commercialization (Individual) – Ajay Pillai – He is well recognized for positioning UHN as a partner of choice for commercial deals related particularly to PPE during this challenging year. He’s also worked tirelessly to help us secure other medical supplies that have been so needed during COVID. He is deserving of this award this year, more than any other, because he truly helped position UHN as strong partner during the pandemic and a partner who saw the alliance with industry as essential.

Local Impact Award, Commercialization (Team)– Gordon Keller and Michael Laflamme – Winners of the UHN Inventor of the Year in 2017, they are receiving this award this year in recognition of the fact BlueRock Therapeutics, a company built on their research, is making Toronto an international hub for commercialization and discovery. BlueRock is focused on developing cell therapies to improve the lives of patients everywhere. BlueRock was acquired last year by Bayer in a deal valued at more than US$1 billion, making it one of the largest Canadian biotech successes in living memory.

President’s Award, Patient Partner (Individual) – Pam Breese – Pam has been a UHN Patient Partner for three years and her voice as a Patient Partner has informed her experience and our experience as an essential care partner to her daughter. She continues to make significant impact at UHN, including having helped develop UHN’s Patient Declaration of Values, serving as a member of Toronto General’s Quality of Care Committee and participating on numerous interview panels when we’ve been hiring colleagues such as social workers and also Patient Relations colleagues. She fiercely advocates for accountability and transparency while demonstrating compassion for patients, families and healthcare workers alike, a true testament to a remarkable partner.

President’s Award, Patient Partner (Team) – Digital Patient Engagement Consultant Group – This amazing group includes 13 Patient Partners who are informing UHN’s virtual care strategy as well as other important digital initiatives occurring at UHN. Their recommendations and feedback have been essential for improving virtual care across UHN as we’ve gone from about 250 virtual visits a-week at the start of the pandemic to more than 7,000 a-week.

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