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For many, success means being in the spotlight. Ron Swail, however, strives for invisible efficiency.
"When we are working at a very high level, most of our operations are invisible to patients and staff," he says. "Our job is to keep a safe, clean, comfortable, and sustainable environment, and if we do it well, people won't even notice that we're here."
Ron was recently appointed Vice-President Facilities, Operations and Maintenance, a new role that for the first time brings all of these services – including Capital Planning and Delivery – under a unified UHN umbrella.
Leading the teams that provide infrastructure, services and supplies to buildings in all UHN sites is certainly challenging, but Swail says he's excited for all the opportunities that lay ahead.
"This new structure provides us with opportunities to really leverage synergies and learn from best practices across the sites," he says. "We can learn how to do more with less and the best way of doing things from one another.
"I'm confident that we can work collaboratively towards a common goal of operational excellence. But it will take a strategic lens, focus, discipline and the talent of the entire facilities team working together to achieve that."
Before joining UHN, Ron worked in the private sector for 20 years and then at University of Toronto for 15 years. From his diverse experience, he brings great expertise in how to improve service levels while also reducing costs and addressing the three pillars of sustainability – social, environmental and economic.
An important driver for Ron's move from private to public sector 15 years ago was a desire to work for an organization that "had a soul." UHN's core mission of patient care, research and education is definitely one that he can passionately get behind.
"Not only is this a chance to shape something new, but to get to do this in an organization like UHN is really an honour," he says.
"UHN's mission resonates deeply with me, and makes me really proud to be here."
A slide show of artist renderings and photos of some key UHN projects
Michener - Lobby renovation will provide a much needed refresh to the building
Michener - New state of the art Simulated Operating Room
Princess Margaret - New 5th Floor Gynecology Clinic
Princess Margaret - New 5th Floor Palliative Care Clinic
Toronto General - New revolving door will save energy and provide better patient experience
Toronto General - The Deep Lake Water Cooling (DLWC) System provides the hospital with a greener and more efficient solution
Toronto Rehab - Bickle Centre - Renovations will improve patient care and experience
Toronto Rehab - Lyndhurst Centre - Renovated patient rooms will be more accessible
Toronto Western - East wall restoration is one of the large projects on the go
Toronto Western - East wall restoration
For the organization, having Swail's strategic oversight is critical in leading the efforts to renew infrastructure and better serve patients, staff, researchers and students.
"We have major projects coming up like the renewal of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, energy and water saving projects at Toronto General and Toronto Western as well as some exciting renovation projects at the Michener Institute and Toronto Rehab sites," says Larry Baldachin, UHN's EVP and Chief Business Officer.
"Ron's oversight and 'can-do' approach to driving change and working with others will be extremely beneficial, especially in this moment when we have so much being done and renovations that will be showing results very soon."
Major projects and renovations
The list is long – UHN has more than 50 infrastructure projects on the go, valued at more than $140 million, and many more at the planning stage. Big or small, all of these renovations will improve patient experience, increase efficiency, reliability and sustainability of UHN's operations. They will also make UHN a more dynamic and functional environment to work within and for our patients and partners to visit.
Ron Swail speaks proudly about a great example of a project that brings all these elements together while also sharing best practices among different sites. A system already in use at Toronto Rehab, University Centre; the Deep Lake Water Cooling (DLWC) System will soon be operating for Toronto General as well.
"The savings in electrical costs and in reducing our carbon footprint that we have seen at Rehab will now also happen in TG," Ron says.
"Using Lake Ontario water as our primary cooling source for our largest hospital is not only very sustainable, but also significantly improves our resiliency and saves operating dollars."
The impact of this project, which is expected to be in operation by early summer, is quite significant. The estimated savings are about $17 million over 20 years. Replacing large chillers for a cooling system that is simpler, more efficient and much better for the environment will increase redundancy in the system and lower the carbon footprint.
A list of some of the key projects that are either planned or in-progress at UHN, by site, is as follows: