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A visit fit for a Duchess
UHN and UHN Foundation last week hosted a very special guest – our Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Edinburgh, who was on a five-day visit to Canada.
As a patron of 70 charities, Her Royal Highness, known affectionately as Sophie, is passionate about matters including women's empowerment and vision health.
Naturally, her visit to the No. 1 hospital in Canada was close to the heart, as The Duchess spent time interacting with frontline health care workers, researchers, clinicians and support staff – thanking them for their meaningful work in bringing to life the world-leading innovation and care at UHN.
As she toured three UHN hospital sites – Toronto General, Toronto Western and her first tour of Toronto Rehab's University Avenue campus, she also stopped to talk to patients and families.
Among the highlights of her visit:
Her Royal Highness received a first-hand demonstration of the latest innovations taking place at UHN. The Duchess tried on a virtual reality (VR) headset while learning about the role of VR in low-vision rehabilitation.
The Duchess spent time talking to patients and learning about the exceptional patient experience delivered at UHN. HRH was seen taking part in a range of activities, including a light-hearted game of catch with one of the patients.
At a dinner addressing donors, Her Royal Highness acknowledged the profound difference being led by UHN's incredible team of clinicians and researchers. While reflecting on her last trip in 2019, The Duchess remarked that, "the progression that has happened in the last four years is extraordinary." At the event, the Duchess thanked UHN donors, who through their generosity "make all of this magic happen."
Her Royal Highness visited the Michael Lawrence Turk Emergency Rapid Assessment Centre at Toronto General, which since its inception in 2022 has served more than 37,000 patients, transforming patient experience in the Emergency Department. The Duchess interacted with nurses, frontline workers and support staff, and spoke on topics including care methodologies they use.
Toronto Rehab is a global leader in physical rehabilitation providing world-class care, research and education. At the University Centre site, The Duchess tried out the reactive balance training frame and harness in the Movement Evaluation Laboratory. It's a system aimed at improving the control of movement and mobility, especially among those recovering from stroke and brain injury.
Toronto Rehab's research arm, UHN's KITE Research Institute, houses Canada's most advanced driving simulator. She toured a series of simulators, while recognizing philanthropy as a crucial driver of cutting-edge medical technology.
The Duchess, along with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, met various UHN leaders, including Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, UHN Foundation CEO Julie Quenneville, Raj Kothari, Chair of the Foundation Board, and Board member Todd Halpern.
As the three-day visit came to an end, Her Royal Highness expressed her gratitude.
"It's been fantastic to be back in Toronto, it's such a friendly and positive city," she said. "Having been Patron of Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals since 2005, I've seen over many years how they are always moving health care forward while continuing to put communities first.
"On this visit, it was fascinating to hear how they are using advancements in research and technology to enhance patient care and the exciting opportunities this offers for the future. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with UHN and all the amazing supporters who do so much for the hospital."
We are grateful for Her Royal Highness' support, and for being so engaged in the work that we do.
It was an honour to host her!
UHN first Canadian organization to implement Epic's Wisdom Dentistry
Dental clinics at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Toronto Rehab are now live on Epic's Wisdom Dentistry module, connecting their patient records to other clinics across UHN already using Epic.
This implementation in late October is the continuation of clinical transformation at UHN, strengthening our single source of truth for patients, families and care teams.
"Wisdom Dentistry is a game-changer for the dentistry clinic at Princess Margaret," Dr. Erin Watson, co-Chair of the Wisdom Dentistry Working Group. "We have customized the Epic module to meet our unique needs and are now able to easily connect the care we give patients with the rest of their care journey."
Prior to go-live, the project team for Synapse, the code name for UHN's implementation of a new health information system from Epic, worked alongside the Wisdom Working Group, made up of subject matter experts and dentistry clinicians, to customize an American piece of software to fit Canadian standards.
This important work will be submitted to Epic's Canadian and American Foundation Systems for inclusion in a future release of the Wisdom module, which will help other organizations when they begin their Epic build journey.
"We are paving the way for other organizations in Canada to start adopting specialized modules of Epic, while maintaining UHN's reputation as an innovator and leader in Canadian health care," says Sarah Muttitt, Vice President and Chief Information Officer.
The Wisdom Dentistry implementation is part of the Specialty Phase of the Synapse project which also includes the implementation of the Beaker Anatomical Pathology module in April 2024. For more information please visit the
Oak Valley Health joins Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network
The Cancer Centre at Oak Valley Health's Markham Stouffville Hospital has joined the Princess Margaret (PM) Cancer Care Network.
This partnership marks a significant milestone, positioning Oak Valley Health as the fourth cancer centre in Canada to become part of the PM Cancer Care Network.
Together, they aim to bring expertise and access to a comprehensive range of cancer services, clinical trials, and ground-breaking research to the vibrant Markham, Stouffville and surrounding communities.
The partnership will also break down barriers to provide seamless access to cutting-edge clinical trials, advanced molecular testing and profiling, and the invaluable opportunity for second opinions at Oak Valley Health.
"This partnership represents a transformative bond between our institutions, revolutionizing our approach to patient care," says Dr. Keith Stewart, Vice President of Cancer at UHN and Director of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "We are thrilled to establish collaboration for clinical trials, molecular testing and knowledge exchange that will benefit the patients of Oak Valley Health."
The Cancer Centre at Oak Valley Health is a growing program with 14 systemic therapy chairs, supported by five medical oncologists, two malignant hematologists and three nurse practitioners, as well as a strong interprofessional team. The clinic has seen an annual increase in patient volumes of 11 per cent to 14 per cent, with growth across most care bundles.
Oak Valley Health prides itself on its partnerships with regional and tertiary centres, which supports ongoing academic excellence, quality, and safety for patients and families. It supports timely access to care for all of our patients close to home and with a family and patient-centered approach.
"This partnership gives Oak Valley Health the opportunity to collaborate and share the expertise and resources of a renowned cancer centre, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, while allowing our patients to receive care close to home," says Terri Stuart-McEwan, Vice President, Clinical Programs and Chief Nurse Executive at Oak Valley Health. "This partnership is about an integrated approach to improving cancer care, patient outcomes and experiences."
Dr. Andrea Bezjak, a radiation oncologist and Medical Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network, encapsulated the partnership's vision, stating: "Our aim is to address currently unmet needs of patients through facilitating collaborative care and research.
"This partnership is not a substitute nor replacement to existing initiatives and relationships but moves forward the Ontario Health mandate at a local level."
Dr. Mateya Trinkaus, a medical oncologist and oncology lead at Oak Valley Health, called the partnership “an excellent opportunity for our cancer centre, hospital and communities.
"With the additional supports that will come from this partnership, we will have more resources for multidisciplinary care, improved ease to participate in and refer for clinical trials and have the opportunity to work closely with some of the brightest cancer experts in the world."
Both Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Oak Valley Health are cancer centres aligned with the provincial priorities outlined by Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario). This partnership heralds a future dedicated to innovation and excellence in cancer care for Markham and surrounding communities.
The existing members of the network, including Southlake Regional Health Centre, Grand River Hospital and Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services, stand as a testament to the value of the Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network.
Workshop focuses on goal setting for the next year
Clinical team members from UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU) at Toronto General Hospital recently came together to discuss the year ahead.
Last week's gathering was an afternoon workshop for members of the two teams to discuss actionable goals for the performance year 2024-25.
The goals discussed align with the strategic priorities of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, nursing, acute care programs and UHN as a whole.