manikin on stretcher
​​Participants in the UHN Emergency Department professional development days included, (L to R), Henry Lin, Ruth Appiah-Boateng, Roger Chow, Stephanie Swailes and Sarah McDermid-Flabbi. (Photo: UHN)

Professional development days return for UHN Emergency Department nurses

The UHN Emergency Department (ED) recently completed a series of professional development (PD) days at the Michener Institute for Education at UHN, the first time they have been held since the outbreak of COVID-19.

The aim of the PD days, which took place from April 16 to 26, was to build on the knowledge and skills of ED nurses from Toronto General Hospital (TGH) and Toronto Western Hospital (TWH), while enhancing their tremendous efforts in providing the highest quality care during the most challenging situations.

In alignment with organizational goals and program priorities, Ruth Appiah-Boateng, Advance Practice Nurse Educator (APNE) at TGH, and Stephanie Swailes, APNE at TWH, co-developed the series with the unique considerations of nurses at all stages of their careers, including the assessment and evaluation of current learning needs.

For novice nurses, the series reinforced the foundations of emergency care, while for the more experienced nurses it was an opportunity to deepen their knowledge and refine their skills. Bringing them together in an off-site setting, helped cultivate team-based learning and reflection.

In addition to engaging staff in high-fidelity simulation scenarios, the series featured expertise and experience from interdisciplinary health professionals, including advanced practice nurses – nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse educators, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, emergency physicians, quality and safety specialists, documentation consultants and simulation experts.

Attendees also received a presentation from Karen Fleming, Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHN's Red Blood Cell Disorder Clinic, who was joined by lived experience advocates with sickle cell disease. They highlighted bias in care and the impact on patients.

Dr. Hasan Sheikh, an emergency and addictions physician and Physician Lead for Substance Use Services at UHN, talked to the group about the importance of best practices and compassionate care for at-risk populations.

A special thanks to UHN's ED leadership, UHN Collaborative Academic Practice and Pam Hubley, UHN's Chief Nursing Executive, for supporting this educational opportunity.

Plans for the first Cricket to Conquer Cancer were announced earlier this month. (Photo: The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation)

Inaugural Cricket to Conquer Cancer up to bat in May 2025

The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (PMCF) is thrilled to unveil the Princess Margaret's Cricket to Conquer Cancer, North America's premier street cricket fundraiser.

This ground-breaking initiative is slated to be the largest of its kind in the country.

Funds raised from this event will support the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

"Cricket is becoming one of Canada's most popular sports," says Steve Merker, Vice President of Corporate and Community Partnerships at PMCF. “This inaugural event, a first of its kind in North America, aims to raise substantial funds for the cancer centre while inspiring thousands of new supporters to take on our vision to Conquer Cancer in our Lifetime."

The inaugural Cricket to Conquer Cancer will be hosted on May 31, 2025 in Mississauga. Dozens of co-ed teams made up of rookies, ringers, celebrities and players of all ages and skill levels will step up to bat in this dawn-to dusk tournament.

National and International cricket stars, who will play alongside and against participants, are delighted to support this initiative.

"I am thrilled to witness the growing popularity of cricket in Canada – a testament to its welcoming and multicultural community. It truly is a global sport," says Carlos Brathwaite, world-renowned cricket player, 2023 Global T20 Canada champion, and former captain of the West Indies National team.

"We all have a personal connection to cancer, me included. One thing that kept my mum going through her cancer treatment was her constant smile and positive outlook.

"I look forward to making this event a celebration for survivors and an inspiration for all those during their journey."

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and the second leading cause of death around the world.

"Funds raised by our passionate community of participants help lead to the breakthroughs that will help patients here in Canada and around the world," says Dr. Amit Oza, Head of the Division of Medical Oncology & Hematology at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "As a cricket enthusiast myself, I am delighted we can celebrate this amazing sport while creating a global impact on cancer research."

For more event information or to register for Cricket to Conquer Cancer visit

Toronto Western Hospital staff at the Pre-Admission Clinic for the kick-off of the Bring Your Own Reusable Bag project. (Photo: UHN)

Toronto Western OR launches reusable bag initiative for patient belongings

Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) has introduced the Bring Your Own Reusable Bag (BYORB) initiative, which encourages elective surgery patients to bring their own bags for their belongings prior to surgery.

A collaboration between the Sprott Centre for Quality and Safety, UHN's Green Team and Endoscopy Team, and Ontario Health, the project aims to reduce surgical waste – specifically plastic patient-belonging bags in TWH operating rooms (OR) – and encourage patients to play an active role in sustainability. Patients are encouraged during their Pre-Admission Clinic appointment to bring two reusable bags on the day of surgery, one for shoes and one for all other belongings.

"Patients respond well to the new bag program and are happy to do their part," says Dr. Shikha Duggal, Quality Improvement Specialist at the Sprott Department of Surgery and Anesthesia, lead BYORB program member and UHN Green Team member.

Prior to this initiative, UHN used roughly 4,000 plastic patient bags per month – around the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions driving from Toronto to Edmonton. The durability and use of reusable bags mitigate the need for continuous production cycles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution associated with each surgical procedure.

The program's impact is significant – in April 2024, 56 per cent of patients at TWH brought their own bags on the day of their surgery, surpassing the project's target goal of 50 per cent. Toronto General Hospital (TGH) has also joined the project, expanding its reach and impact. In addition to patients bringing their own bags, there has been a demonstrated decrease in plastic bag ordering by 74 per cent at TWH, and 64 per cent at TGH.

"Seeing the impact our choices have on the environment is the driving force behind my wanting to reduce our carbon footprint for future generations," says Dr. Duggal.

At a booth in the lobby of Toronto General Hospital (TGH) to mark International Thalassemia Day on May 8, (L to R), James Bradley, transition navigator at UHN and The Hospital for Sick Children, UHN social worker Sinthu Srikanthan and Karen Fleming, Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHN's Red Blood Cell Disorder Clinic at TGH. (Photo: UHN)

Raising awareness about thalassemia 'to reduce barriers, improve care'

UHN's Red Blood Cell Disorder Clinic celebrated International Thalassemia Day on May 8 with an information booth in the lobby of Toronto General Hospital (TGH). The theme for 2024 was: "Empowering Lives, Embracing Progress: Equitable and Accessible Thalassemia Treatment for All."

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder characterized by decreased hemoglobin production that can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, trouble breathing, and pale or yellow skin. Thalassemia is commonly diagnosed in peoples whose ancestors are from parts of the world where malaria was or is still endemic, including Africa, Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

Many patients with thalassemia need monthly blood transfusions as a life sustaining treatment.

"Raising awareness about thalassemia will help to reduce barriers, improve care and increase knowledge about this lifelong disease," says Karen Fleming, Clinical Nurse Specialist at UHN's Red Blood Cell Disorder Clinic at TGH.

With an estimated 100 million people worldwide carrying genes responsible for thalassaemia, and more than 300,000 babies born annually with severe forms of the disease, International Thalassaemia Day is a powerful call to raise awareness about this condition and its impact while celebrating the solidarity of the resilient thalassaemia community worldwide.

Thalassemia is commonly diagnosed in peoples whose ancestors are from parts of the world where malaria was or is still endemic, including Africa, Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

People who get one changed gene from their parents are carriers and usually don't show symptoms. But if someone gets two changed genes (one from each parent), they'll have thalassaemia.

There are two types of thalassemia:

  • α-thalassaemia (or alpha thalassaemia) occurs when a gene or g​enes related to the α-globin protein are missing or changed (mutated), and
  • β-thalassaemia (or beta thalassaemia) occurs when similar gene defects affect production of the β-globin protein.

Bone marrow transplants and gene editing therapy are two treatment options/research trials that will eliminate the need for monthly transfusions.

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