Help save lives by donating blood

Catherine Wang and Ed Cole
Catherine Wang, Vice President Clinical, and Dr. Ed Cole, Physician-in-Chief, take a break in their busy schedules to visit Canadian Blood Services donation centre at 67 College St. (Photo: UHN)

UHN is once again participating in Canadian Blood Services (CBS) Hospital Donation Challenge – a two-month challenge where hospitals aim to increase blood donations and support Canada's lifeline.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBS has recorded a significant drop in blood donations, and now, as hospitals across the country begin to resume procedures the need for blood is rising.

To participate in the challenge, simply add UHN's Partner For Life ID (UNIV011216) to your account and book a donation by Oct. 12.

Last year, 25 hospitals participated in the challenge and over 640 units of blood were donated. This year, CBS is targeting a goal of 1,000 units, and UHN has already made 107 donations, including those from Catherine Wang, Vice President Clinical, and Dr. Ed Cole, Physician-in-Chief, UHN (pictured). 

With UHN's size, scope and commitment to patient care, we can be leaders in this challenge and most importantly – save lives.  

For group donations, contact:, T: 416 434 7031

***Note: We understand there is still some work required to update CBS' eligibility criteria. While advocacy for inclusivity continues, please consider giving blood if you are able. Read more.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre celebrates National Oncology Nursing Day

OND Award Recipients
(L to R) Laura Mitchell, Dr. Joy Richards, Trish Murphy-Kane, Maureen McQuestion, Rachel Troke, Breanna Martin, Nazlin Jivraj, Anet Julius. (Photo: UHN)

Every day, nurses at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and across the cancer program at UHN, ensure excellence in clinical practice, education, research and continue to support the learning and growth of interdisciplinary team members.

This special group of professionals are typically celebrated across Canada on April 7, Oncology Nursing Day (OND). But this year celebrations were paused in order to respond to the rapidly changing protocols of COVID-19.

On Sept. 17, the team was finally able to mark the occasion and celebrate Oncology Nurses with a virtual ceremony for its 11th Annual Oncology Nursing Day Awards. The awards recognize the outstanding contributions of oncology nursing and the supportive and compassionate care they provide for patients and families. 

"The Rising Star Oncology Nursing Award" is presented to an oncology nurse that is new to nursing – less than five years since graduating from an undergraduate program and less than three years in oncology – in recognition of contributions to excellence in nursing and enhancing the patient experience through patient-centered care. The recipient is Rachel Troke, RN, BScN, who nominators say is an exceptional nurse who goes above and beyond what is expected of her, including creating a beautiful garden for one of her patients.

The "Preceptorship/ Mentorship/Teaching Award" is presented to an oncology nurse in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the overall growth, development, and education of nurses and or nursing students in oncology through preceptorship, mentorship, or teaching. This year's recipient is Trish Murphy-Kane, RN, BScN, MN, CHPCN(C), who is described as a natural leader and always willing to teach.  

The "Michael Kamin Hart Award of Excellence in Adolescent and Young Adults" is presented to a nurse who has made an exceptional impact on the experience and care of adolescents and young adults with cancer. This year's recipient is Breanna Martin, RN, BScN. Breanna is recognized as providing outstanding care and uses her patient's personal story, experiences, and values to guide the care she provides holistically.  

"The Rose Dean Essence of Oncology Nursing Award" is presented to an oncology nurse in recognition of an outstanding contribution to nursing within the cancer program aligned with the "best of nursing" themes: the power of the presence of nursing and the importance of truly "being with" patients and colleagues; the use of knowledge in providing excellent practice; and the ability to create and foster an environment that enables nurses to be their best. This year's recipient is Maurene McQuestion, RN, BScN, MN, CON(C), who is known for creating a safe atmosphere for her colleagues to think critically and challenge themselves. 

"The 90/10 Professional Development Project Award" provides financial support to a staff nurse to develop and complete a project focused on: Developing a nursing practice-based initiative to improve patient/family outcomes or that creates a quality work environment. This year's recipient is Nazlin Jivraj RN, BScN for her project, "Developing cultural competency for healthcare professionals in oncology for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer+ (LGBTQ+)."  

Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees of this year's Oncology Nursing Day Awards at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. (Photo: UHN) 

Congratulations to all of the Specialized Oncology Nurses who were nominated for the awards. 

Rising Star Oncology Nursing Award Nominees 

Kristine Laborde, Ambulatory Care, Gynecology 

Isabel Wozniczka, Nursing Resource Unit 

Monica Ku, Ambulatory Care, Gastrointestinal  

Neelabh Choudhary, Inpatient Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant Unit 

Preceptorship/ Mentorship /Teaching Award Nominees 

Carla Coverdale, Clinical teacher, University of Toronto 

Claudia Grande, Advanced Practice Nurse Educator, Palliative care and Medical and Radiation oncology program 

Graham Dozois, Inpatient Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant Unit 

Lili Zhang, Shari Valja, Kieu Nguyen, Rapid Assessment Clinic, Leukemia 

Ruth Jenkins, Malignant Hematology Day Unit 

Rose Dean Essence of Oncology Nursing Award Nominees 

Catherine Bergman, Head and Neck and Plastics Unit, Toronto General  

Fazila Jiwa, Urgent Care Clinic  

Kevin Talbot, Inpatient Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant Unit 

Maureen Daniels, Brain Tumour Clinic 

Ruth Jenkins, Malignant Hematology Day Unit 

Suzanne Rowland, Multiple Myeloma program 

Tasneem Murji, Inpatient Autologous Transplant and Autologous Transplant Day Hospital 

90/10 Professional Development Project Award Nominee 

Graham DozoisInpatient Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplant Unit 

Half-million COVID-19 tests completed at shared Sinai - UHN Microbiology Department 

Laboratory Technologists
Laboratory Technologists work around the clock in the shared Sinai Health – UHN Microbiology Lab to provide COVID-19 test results to residents across Ontario (Photo: Sinai Health)

With the largest COVID-19 testing capacity in Ontario, the shared Sinai Health – University Health Network (UHN) Microbiology Department has now completed more than half a million tests for residents across the province. 

"We're really proud to go beyond serving just our hospitals to supporting residents throughout Ontario as a whole," says Dr. Tony Mazzulli, Microbiologist-in-Chief, Sinai Health – UHN.

"Reaching a half-million milestone shows we have been successful in meeting a critical testing need and contributing to the COVID response effort for the entire province."

Under the direction of Dr. Mazzulli and Christine Bruce, Laboratory Administrative Director, the lab has scaled-up COVID-19 testing by more than 20 times its March volumes. In that time, it has completed more COVID-19 tests than any other single laboratory in the province.   

"We have a rock-solid foundation for testing and incredibly talented staff, which have allowed us to respond to testing needs very quickly," Christine says. "The team has not taken their foot off the gas since day one."

With the province pushing for increased testing, the Sinai Health – UHN Microbiology Department is building capacity to be able to perform 17,000 tests per day by the beginning of October. Christine says.

"Ontario put out a call to action, and this is our way of answering the call," she says.

Dr. Kathryn Tinckam, Interim Medical Director for UHN's Laboratory Medicine Program adds, "Whether it is turn-around-time, testing capacity or any challenge they have faced, this team has been relentless in finding the fastest, most accurate solutions for Ontarians."

GROWing together: gardening in the time of COVID-19

GROW Image
Modifying gardening protocols to keep everyone safe allowed the garden team at Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre to band together and keep the garden growing despite COVID-19. (Photo: UHN)

Toronto Rehab's Bickle Centre garden team was about to start planning and planting their popular garden, when COVID-19 threatened to change the way they welcome spring.

Recognizing the bright spot the garden could be, at a time when patients weren't able to leave hospital property or have visitors on site, the team was determined to keep their tradition alive. 

The Bickle GROW (Garden Rehab On Wheels) garden is comprised of raised planters easily accessed from a wheelchair. Since its inception in 2016, staff and patients have planted and tended to its fruits and vegetables. While gardening is a form of therapy for patients, its bounty can be cooked and eaten by all. 

By modifying gardening protocols to keep everyone safe, this incredible team banded together while keeping two metres apart. 

For example, staff were encouraged to take patients outside to the garden on a one-to-one basis for therapy or a wellness visit, while hand sanitizing pre-and post-gardening, disinfecting shared tools, using single-use gloves instead of shared materials, were other modifications made. 

Read the full article, written by Amanda Beales, Registered Dietitian & Interprofessional Educator, and Jennifer Ireland, Occupational Therapist, Toronto Rehab, Bickle Centre on the popular Talkin' Trash with UHN blog.

Repairing the world – one gesture at a time

Collage of items collected
Ariella Ross, 13, collected an assortment of colourful art and videos from friends and classmates as part of her preparations for her bat mitzvah. (Images: Courtesy Ariella Ross)

One student's gift of art is repairing the hearts of patients on Toronto Rehab's Specialized Dementia Unit (SDU). 

When Ariella Ross, 13, started preparing for her bat mitzvah – a Jewish coming of age ceremony – she embarked on a Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) project. Collecting an assortment of colourful art and videos from friends and classmates, she gifted it to the SDU, in an effort to lift spirits of patients and staff, and remind them that they're not alone. 

"I was hoping these pieces of art would brighten a patient or staff's day, and show [them] that people outside the hospital were thinking of them," says Arielle. 

And it's a gesture that has gone a long way, says Amy Cockburn, an occupational therapist on the SDU. 

"Both patients and staff alike have been stopping to admire the colourful art work and read the words of encouragement that we've displayed on a prominent wall," she says.  

"It brightens up the area, which just may become the place on the unit dedicated to encouragement, appreciation, and acknowledgement of everyone's hard work." 

According to Ariella, the outcome was well worth the effort.  

"This project was inspiring and showed how simple it is to make a nice gesture that could improve someone's day," she says.

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