Pride Month at UHN

Flag being unveiled at Toronto Rehab
Patricia Mlekuz, a Senior Clinical Director at Toronto Rehab, (L) and Ruby Shanker, a UHN bioethicist and member of the UHN LGBTQ2S Committee, unveil the Pride flag at Toronto Rehab, University Centre, on Monday to kick off UHN Pride celebrations. (Photo: UHN)

UHN's Pride celebrations kicked off Monday with flag-raising ceremonies at Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto Rehab, and will continue throughout the rest of the month of June.

"As Toronto prepares to celebrate Pride, we are pleased to bring Pride to UHN," Ruby Shanker, a UHN bioethicist and a member of the UHN LGBTQ2S Committee, said at the ceremony at Toronto Rehab. "We have been hearing from patients and colleagues that there is energy, commitment and engagement involved to ensure more inclusion in healthcare.

"Our committee was formed to promote, foster and respect the voices, interests and issues of the LGBTQ2S communities that provide or access UHN services," added Ruby, noting that while 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada "societal misperceptions persist about gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation continue to impact how we work and how we care for patients within healthcare."

Patricia Mlekuz, a Senior Clinical Director at Toronto Rehab, explained to those gathered the origin, history and meaning of the rainbow or Pride flag and said it is "that standard of hope" since it was first flown in San Francisco in 1978.

At Toronto Western, Janet Newton, Vice-President and Site Lead, said: "At UHN, we are committed to diversity, inclusion, respect, education and safety. To mark Pride this year and to celebrate the diversity of the LGBQT2S community, we are raising the Pride flag at every site across UHN."

Jason Dickson, Administrative Support Supervisor, Emergency Department and Admitting at TW, added: "Our identities intersect and can further compound our living experiences as healthcare providers, colleagues, and patient populations. With that in mind we are working hard to support education and awareness initiatives that move our organization in the right direction."

Read here for a full list of the flag-raising ceremonies across UHN this week.

Next week, the UHN LGBTQ2S Committee will hold special screenings of the award-winning documentary "Gen Silent," which chronicles the lives of six LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care homes in the Boston area, and their complex experiences of discrimination based on their diverse identities, and the perspectives of healthcare providers and caregivers.


Celebrating the Walter and Maria Schroeder Institute for Brain Innovation and Recovery

the Schroeders
“When people ask me why we support Toronto Rehab, [I say] it is going to be a hero hospital one day,” says Walter Schroeder, pictured with Maria, in front of the new sign at Toronto Rehab, University Centre. (Photo: Toronto Rehab Foundation)

Walter and Maria Schroeder and their family were on hand last week for a special ceremony outside Toronto Rehab's Elm Street lobby entrance to unveil a new prominent exterior sign naming the Walter and Maria Schroeder Institute for Brain Innovation and Recovery. 

It was in December 2017, when Walter and Maria Schroeder made an unprecedented $20-million transformational gift to support and invest in Toronto Rehab's incredible core of talent, who are combining state-of-the-art technology with the human brain to find solutions to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and Parkinson's. 

Through the Walter and Maria Schroeder Institute for Brain Innovation and Recovery at Toronto Rehab, a collaborative environment and framework is enabling multi-disciplinary experts in engineering and the clinical neurosciences to accelerate new neuro-technological breakthroughs to improve the lives of individuals and families battling brain disease.

 "When people ask me why we support Toronto Rehab, [I say] it is going to be a hero hospital one day," says Walter. 

"It does two things everyone is going to be concerned with: alleviating pain and improving mobility and with the research they're doing with dementia – those things are going to stand out."


Roundtables discuss how to improve living organ donation in diverse communities

Lydia-Joi Marshall
Lydia-Joi Marshall of the Black Health Alliance and Trillium Gift of Life Network led the discussion at a June 6 rountable hosted by the Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN. (Photo: Courtesy Lydia-Joi Marshall)

The Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN hosted a roundtable event on June 6 to discuss strategies to improve access to living organ donation in Black, African, and Afro-Caribbean communities.

The conversation was led by Lydia-Joi Marshall of the Black Health Alliance and Trillium Gift of Life Network, and Dr. IstvanMucsi, whose most recent study revealed racial and ethnic disparities in transplant and living organ donation in Canada.

Another roundtable is set for this Thursday, June 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Toronto General Hospital. Read more about the event which is open to all TeamUHN members from all levels and all departments who have an interest in transplant or kidney or liver disease, and would like to improve access to living organ donation in diverse communities. Family and friends are also welcome.

Participants at the earlier roundtable included patient voices, members of the Black Health Alliance, Taibu Health Centre, The Sickle Cell Association, The African Kidney Association and independent voices internal and external to UHN. The event was held to ensure that the Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN, founded in 2018, ensures UHN's Transplant Program is as accessible and inclusive as possible.

"The discussion was an imperative step forward in engaging people from the community in the Centre's work to ensure equitable access to living donor transplantation," said Noor El-Dassouki, Clinical Research Assistant to Dr. Mucsi. "Based on the discussion, it's clear there's a greater need for education, both for healthcare professionals and patients.

"Equally important is the need for representation of diversity – including pictures, videos, and stories – from members of these communities."

Lydia-Joialso considered the roundtable the "beginning of a movement to bring life to the meaning of patient-centered care."

"The roundtable event asked the question: how do we as a community want disparities to be addressed?" she says. "The takeaway was that it must come from a systems change vantage point. 

"That starts with an acknowledgement of barriers, such as anti-black racism and socio-economic barriers. Then a concerted effort must be made to understand the way in which various cultures mentally access healthcare."

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