Some of the more than 4,000 nurses at UHN talk about how and why they “AnswerThe Call.” (Video: UHN)

UHN nurses #AnswerTheCall

The theme for this year's National Nurses Week according to the Canadian Nursing Association is #WeAnswerTheCall. The theme highlights the different roles nurses play throughout a patient's health-care journey.

The profession of nursing comes with its challenges, but for UHN registered nurses (RNs) Raymond Yang and Bon Jovi Renales, it's the challenges that make it rewarding.

"My drive comes from a sense of personal fulfillment that I get because of this profession's social significance," says Bon Jovi, RN on the Toronto Western Hospital COVID-19 Unit. "I love that nursing forces me to be socially aware because we provide care and advocate for the most vulnerable populations."

A shift can often be incredibly busy and overwhelming, especially during the pandemic. What has been highlighted during COVID-19 is the outstanding comradery and dedication among nurses.

"I know that I am not alone and can always count on my colleagues for help," says Raymond, RN on the same unit. "My colleagues are one of the most rewarding parts of working on the COVID-19 unit and what helps keep me going."

Bon Jovi and Raymond are two of the more than 4,000 nurses at UHN who provide compassionate and dedicated care every day. Nurses not only provide care to patients, but also support their patient's family and loved ones.

"What I love about nursing is being able to make a difference, no matter how big or small it is," Raymond says.

Bon Jovi Renales and Raymond Yang
Bon Jovi Renales (L) and Raymond Yang, registered nurses at UHN, answer what it means to be a nurse. (Photos: Courtesy Bon Jovi Renales and Raymond Yang)

Toronto General Nurse Manager Denise Morris named a "Nursing Hero"

Denise Morris
Denise Morris received a third place honour in the annual Hospital News “Nursing Hero” awards. (Photo: UHN)

With flowers and heartfelt words, members of the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU) team at Toronto General Hospital came together recently to honour Nurse Manager Denise Morris.

Denise was honoured with third place in the annual Hospital News "Nursing Hero" awards. She was recognized from among 250 nurses across the country who were nominated for their invaluable contributions over the past year.

"I couldn't be prouder to lead all of you," Denise told her team, which surprised her with a bouquet of flowers and news of the award. "You are wonderful. And, it's what keeps me coming every day.

"The commitment from the entire team. I couldn't do this without you. It's a team effort every day.

"And, I am in awe when I walk through this unit and see what you guys are managing on a daily basis."

Those who nominated Denise were full of praise.

"Denise built the MSICU," said Clare Fielding, Nurse Manager, MSICU, TGH. "No one here, and probably very few in this province, know as much as she does and is as passionate about this work as she is.

"She is constantly creating best practices and teaching new generations how to be excellent in this field. This pandemic experience has been devastating for all of us and if it hadn't been for her leadership, many of us would not have made it through with any decent level of good mental health."

Linda Flockhart, Clinical Director, TGH Peter Munk Cardiac Centre & ICUs, UHN, added: "Even before the pandemic Denise was an employee's manager, always working hard to ensure her team was prepared and supported.

"Throughout this unprecedented experience she has been laser-focused on safety for her staff and her patients. When it seemed that her night staff were not getting the same quality of information as her day staff, Denise decided she would work nights too. Along with a few other Nurse Managers, Denise now regularly works the night shift so that continuity is not an issue – safety and quality of care will never be compromised on her watch.

"She is a hero by any measure."

Dr. John Granton, Intensivist, Interim Medical Director, Health Services, UHN, said Denise's "decent and caring character is reflected in her leadership style and in how her people care for our patients.

"This unit has seen the worst throughout this pandemic – the sickest of the sick patients, and yet morale is good, our staff and patients feel supported, I think Denise is a very strong reason for all that."

Annie setting the pace for third annual fundraiser

Annie Smith
Later this month, Annie Smith, a patient at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, will embark on her third annual Annie’s Pace Global Adventure with a goal of raising $5,000 for Test Your Limits, an initiative led by her cardiologist, Dr. Heather Ross. (Photos: Courtesy Annie Smith)

Annie Smith, a patient at UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), is returning to her treadmill for the third annual Annie's Pace Global Adventure – and she's inviting the whole world to join her. 

In 2016, Annie was diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, a rare condition causing growth of inflammatory cells in the heart. Dr. Heather Ross, Division Head of Cardiology at the PMCC and Annie's cardiologist, warned her that any strenuous exercise would be extremely unsafe for her heart. Her advice was to limit physical activity to walking. 

As a fitness instructor and personal trainer, Annie was obviously disappointed – but she didn't let that stop her. She began to walk a minimum of 10 kilometres per day, and in 2019, decided to turn her passion for walking and bringing awareness to heart disease into a walk-a-thon fundraiser she named "Annie's Pace." 

Three years later, Annie has raised more than $12,000 for Dr. Ross's Test Your Limits (TYL) initiative and walked more than 2500 kilometres on her treadmill. She's also transformed Annie's Pace into a Global Adventure – participants have joined from around the world, including Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.  

"As a personal trainer living with an incurable, life-threatening heart disease, and now a complete heart block, I've been robbed of my usual physical norm," Annie writes on social media. "I want to bring awareness of Dr. Ross' message that our hearts are worth one hour a day for physical activity and the importance of signing up for organ donation. 

"I created Annie's Pace Global Adventure in the hopes of helping others like myself. Every May, for four consecutive days, my goal is for the world to unite for their hearts." 

This year, Annie hopes to raise another $5,000 for TYL and will be undertaking another four-day treadmill walk. You can join Annie from May 28 to 31, by participating in any form of physical activity for your heart, mind and soul! 

To learn more and donate, visit Annie's UHN Foundation page and follow along on social media: Annie Smith on Facebook and @alltherightmoves.anniespace on Instagram. 

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