Ron Swail
Ron Swail, UHN’s new Vice-President of Facilities, Operations and Maintenance, says: “I’m confident that we can work collaboratively towards a common goal of operational excellence. (Photo: UHN)

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

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:

ProjectEstimated completionBenefits
Digital Radiography (DR) Fleet ReplacementSummer, 2019Renovate DR suites and replace existing technology with new Digital Radiography (X-ray) equipment all for hospital sites (TGH, PMH, TRI, TWH)
ProjectEstimated completionBenefits
Eaton (east) Entrance New Revolving Door Spring, 2018Improved entry way for better patience experience, savings in electricity, increased redundancy on the system​
Emergency Generator Replacement and Diesel Fuel UpgradesSpring, 2018Increased emergency power capacity and redundancy for vital loads to protect critical hospital operations during power outages
Deep Lake Water Cooling (DLWC) SystemSummer, 2018Savings on water and electricity, increased redundancy on the system
MPOR (Multi-Purpose Operating Room) ReplacementWinter, 2018-19Upgrade to the newest Angio technology for advanced patient care within the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre program
ProjectEstimated completionBenefits
Main Pavilion East Wall RestorationSpring, 2019Restore brick façade, protect building from the elements​
Toronto Western Emergency Department ExpansionWinter, 2019-20Expanded emergency department capacity, improved patient care and experience
Heat and Power Co-Generation PlantSpring, 2021Savings on electricity, increased resiliency during power outages
ProjectEstimated completionBenefits
5th Floor ClinicsSpring, 2018Better patient care and patient experience
Main Floor RenovationSummer, 2019Better patient care and patient experience
ProjectEstimated completionBenefits
Bickle Centre - Dialysis UnitOpened on February 26, 2018New dialysis unit at Bickle Centre; improved patient care and experience including nighttime dialysis for inpatient population
Lyndhurst Centre – New nurse calling system, AODA compliant rooms, walls and ceiling renovationFall, 2019Better patient experience, increased safety and accessibility for patients and staff
Hillcrest Centre – Boilers, Elevators, Sprinklers, Roof, etc2020Increased infrastructure reliability (boilers, elevators, etc.) better patient experience, increased safety and accessibility for patients and staff
ProjectEstimated completionBenefits
15th Floor Data Centre2018Data centre being constructed through a partnership with UHN Digital and Michener. This will house much critical digital resources for both organizations.
Lobby Renovation and Food Kiosk2018This will provide a much needed refresh to the lobby and modernize food service in the building.
Research Institute for Healthcare Education: Phase 1201912,500 sq ft of state of the art medical simulation facilities and the future home of the HoPingKing Centre for Excellence in Education and Practice and Temerty/Chang Telesimulation Centre

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