Local Impact Awards
The 2021 UHN Local Impact Awards and the President's Patient Partner Awards were announced at Tuesday's UHN Holiday Open Forum. (Graphic: UHN)

Time was taken at Tuesday's Holiday Open Forum to announce the 2021 UHN Local Impact Awards.

"I want to thank all of you for living our values and continuing to improve each and every day," said Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, at the outset of the awards announcement.

He is co-chair of the awards selection committee along with Gillian Howard, Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications.

There were 130 nominations this year from across UHN.

"Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate their colleagues," said Gillian "This year in particular, taking the time to recognize somebody took a little bit of extra effort.

"Unfortunately, and like last year, we couldn't invite our winners up on any kind of virtual stage."

The awards are aligned with UHN's Strategic Priorities, which help us transform lives and drive us toward our vision of A Healthier World.

Here are the winners of the 2021 UHN Local Impact Awards and the President's Patient Partner Awards along with a description of the importance of their work in the words of those TeamUHN members who nominated them for the recognition.


Local Impact Award, Quality and Safety (Individual) – Lucas Chartier is a UHN Emergency physician and Chair of the UHN Physician Council on Quality & Safety. "This important council was established one year ago to advise on the quality of medical care provided across UHN and has already made significant strides in its mandate and has exciting and innovative goals for the future that will strengthen Quality & Safety at UHN."


Local Impact Award, Quality and Safety (Team) – UHN Health Services restructured and rebranded at the outset of the pandemic and has been "a caring supportive and compassionate TEAM, who went above and beyond to make people feel secure, answer all COVID-19 related questions and made themselves available on very short notice to visit and educate staff on protocols and the do's and don't of what we needed to do to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe."


Local Impact Award, Tomorrow's Care (Individual) – Alejandro Berlin led a team at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre which developed an innovative e-system, the Virtual Care Management System (VCMS). Developed in less than two weeks and launched in March of 2020, VCMs's design "enabled the Princess Margaret to maintain its outpatient cases and standards of care, while preserving high patient and provider satisfaction."


Local Impact Award, Tomorrow's Care (Team) – Case Expert Model is a person-centred approach to radiation therapy. A patient is partnered with an individual radiation therapist (RT), who provides support and performs all rounds of radiotherapy, serving as the primary point of contact. It increases efficiency by eliminating transitions among different RTs as happens in standard practice and has led to "greater rapport between patients and RTs … and increased responsiveness from patients and their families."


Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Individual) – Joel Puetz, a physician in the Emergency Department at Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals who has worked overnights for the past 10 years, is described as "the Batman of UHN, the lone soldier on the darkest cold nights when the rest of us are all in bed." He has trained years of resident physicians and medical students overnight, teaching them how to critically think and how to survive when they are alone – "probably the two most important skills we impart on tomorrow's physicians."


Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Team) – The Vaccine Clinic Team "exemplifies TeamUHN collaborative spirit, willingness to do whatever it takes for patients and staff and continue to do it with a positive attitude and can-do spirit." For the past year, the team carved out time in their schedule to focus on building Canada's first vaccine clinic, designing it from scratch, figuring out logistics (supply chain, legal, staffing, process, scheduling, etc.) and delivering a clinic under an enormous amount of pressure from both the Ontario Ministry of Health and internally across UHN.


Local Impact Award, Convergence (Individual) – Erin O'Connor, a physician in the Emergency Department at Toronto Western Hospital "is the embodiment of a well-rounded academic clinician who drives the convergence of clinical care, education and research in all that she does." She has cross-discipline expertise in emergency medicine and palliative care which have "allowed her to have a major impact across multiple care environments."


Local Impact Award, Convergence (Team) – Radiation Medicine Accelerated Education Program is a unique educational program funded by several partners in industry "that has delivered top-notch training, instruction and practice for radiation medicine (RM) professionals since its establishment in 2005." The program offers programs for professional development in radiotherapy for all RM disciplines, including medical physics, radiation therapy, radiation oncology and allied health. "Its visionary approach, guided by a goal to provide high-quality education on newest technologies in the field of RM, and to accelerate their implementation into clinical practice, rests in its intensive and interactive interdisciplinary training."


Local Impact Award, Technology & Innovation (Individual) – Joseph Choi has transformed patient care throughout UHN by finding a way for clinicians to upload notes into EPR. He also brought "Dragon dictation" to UHN, which allows clinicians to dictate notes via microphone (or an iPhone used as a microphone) to upload a note for immediate viewing in EPR. "This has improved both quality and safety for patients and overall patient satisfaction and has made consultant access to emergency patient information more seamless." Dr. Choi orchestrated both initiatives.


Local Impact Award, Technology & Innovation (Team) – Medly Development Team from eHealth Innovation at UHN and the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre were developing and evaluating digital health solutions long before the pandemic necessitated the adoption of remote care. One of them is a heart monitoring app known as Medly, which "exemplifies the types of innovations that will be needed to address the continually increasing pressures on Canadian health care due to our ageing population."


Local Impact Award, Commercialization & Discovery (Individual) – Lakshmi Kotra, a Senior Scientist at UHN's Krembil Research Institute, is a medicinal chemist with expertise in the development of small molecule drugs. His inventions include multiple therapeutic compounds and industrial technologies, several of which have been licensed for commercialization. "Dr. Kotra's research achievements have raised Ontario's profile as a hub for medical biotechnology." Since joining UHN in 2006, he has submitted 25 invention disclosures and served as a co-inventor on four issued patent families.


Local Impact Award, Commercialization & Discovery (Team) – Scott Bratman and Daniel De Carvalho are being recognized "for their outstanding achievements related to a new platform technology for generating cancer diagnostics from a blood test." The "transformational discovery" offers the potential to detect cancer at the earliest stages, in addition to monitoring and managing disease. Their work has sparked the creation of a new company, Adela, valued at US$110 million.


President's Award, Patient Partner (Individual) – Sharon Bray, Jack Ireland and Millie Dolanjski have been selected as joint recipients of this year's award.

Sharon is an author, educator and heart failure patient. Since 2019, she has worked with UHN to run the "Writing the Heart" workshop series, first in-person, now virtually. "In these pandemic days, her leadership of both introductory and intensive six-week workshops has served as an essential outreach, outlet and community builder for patients and caregivers."

Jack is being recognized for his partnerships with Patient Education and Engagement on teach-back and staff capacity building. Teach-back is an important safety technique that helps engage patients in their care. "Jack's participation in this work has helped to embed teach-back into the culture at UHN for the promise of inspiring tomorrow's care."

Millie is "an extraordinary Patient Partner." As one of the inaugural Patient Partners at UHN, she has been involved in many activities, from sharing how health literacy has helped her navigate her health care during Health Literacy Month to being a dedicated Accessibility Council member.


President's Award, Patient Partner (Team) – Outpatient Care Patient Engagement Consultant Group is 12 "extremely dedicated" UHN Patient Partners – Santa Cuda, Eden Adejobi, Cecilia Amoakohene, Maya Stern, Mohit Arora, Nicola Doyle, Jack Ireland, Jean McKeever, Emily Pinckard, Martina Wendl, Chris Channon, and Katie Shea – who have co-developed UHN's Outpatient Care Strategy over the past year. "The Outpatient Care Strategy aims to define and achieve best practice outpatient care by introducing a consistent, high-quality outpatient experience no matter the site, program or clinic. The OCPECG has made many exceptional contributions to the improvement of outpatient care at UHN."

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