Kevin greets Earl Miller
​​UHN Patient Partner Earl Miller, (R), is greeted by Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, after being named winner of the President's Award, Patient Partner (Individual) at the 2023 UHN Local Impact Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. (Photo: UHN)

It was a true celebration of TeamUHN.

From a record 113 nominations, winners of the 2023 UHN Local Impact Awards were announced at a ceremony in Schatz Hall at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

"Each year, UHN recognizes individuals and teams that make outstanding contributions to help realize our strategic vision of A Healthier World," Sheila O'Brien, UHN's Executive Vice President of People, Culture & Community, told the assembled audience and those tuned in to the livestream. "And, what makes these Local Impact Awards so impactful is each and every winner has been nominated by their peers."

Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO of UHN, noted the number of nominations means "113 people and groups at UHN were so impressed by the work of their colleagues that they took the time to write thoughtful, compelling nomination applications, with many of our winners receiving multiple nominations.

"While our judging committee had the inspiring and difficult task of selecting today's winners, they wanted to reinforce that all the nominees were extremely worthy candidates."

Wednesday's Local Impact Impact Awards and the 2023 UHN Global Impact Awards were the third event of the inaugural TeamUHN Week of Gratitude. Monday featured a panel discussion – "UHN's Future is Bold: State of the Union Update" – and Tuesday saw the focus shift to "Investing in TeamUHN."

On Thursday, the "Foundations Power Hour" will feature Dr. Miyo Yamashita, President & CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, and Julie Quennville, President & CEO of UHN Foundation, discussing in a virtual session the work of their teams in raising hundreds of millions of dollars each year to kickstart medical research across UHN.

On Friday, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation will hold a "gratitude and goodies" event in the lobby where members of TeamUHN can stop by for a delicious treat and enter raffles for great prizes.

After details of their citation was read out by Dr. Kevin Smith and Sheila O'Brien, each of the individual and team winners were called up on stage to receive their award and have a photo taken. Here, Dr. Phyllis Billia accepts her Local Impact Award, Commercialization & Discovery (Individual).​ (Photo: UHN)

The Local Impact Awards are aligned with UHN's Strategic Priorities, which help us transform lives and drive us toward the vision of A Healthier World.

Here are the winners of the 2023 UHN Local Impact Awards and the President's Patient Partner Awards, along with a description of the importance of their work in the words of those who nominated them.

Local Impact Award, Tomorrow's Care (Individual) – Dr. Brian Ballios of UHN's Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at Toronto Western Hospital has enhanced UHN's capacity to provide care to an underserved population through the creation of a specialized, adult-focused clinic for patients with inherited retinal diseases – such as retinitis pigmentosa – the first and only one of its kind in Ontario.

Local Impact Award, Tomorrow's Care (Team) – Medly-General Internal Medicine Implementation Team is a truly multidisciplinary group from across the organization that came together to create and successfully pilot a new model of care designed to harness the power of technology to help reduce readmission rates for patients with congestive heart failure post-discharge.

Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Individual) – Silvi Groe, Clinical Director at UHN's Schroeder Arthritis Institute at Toronto Western Hospital, has during the COVID-19 pandemic and its rise in staff burnout and high turnover sought out resources to promote and co-create joy within their clinical operational areas to enhance worker satisfaction, engagement and overall well-being.

Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Team) – General Internal Medicine Physician Assistants & Nurse Practitioners at Toronto General Hospital received multiple nominations from their colleagues about the indispensable contributions they are making since joining the department in 2021. “They have been such a positive and integral group within our department of GIM," one nominator wrote.

Local Impact Award, Technology & Innovation (Individual) – Shehla Sheikh of UHN Digital has been instrumental in advancing UHN's digital transformation, including the 2022 launch of Epic, the organization's new health information system, which has improved the quality and safety of patient care as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of hospital operations. She has also helped foster a culture of collaboration across teams to explore and build new best practices.

A standing room only crowd of more than 100 came to Schatz Hall for the live show. Here, Silvi Groe, (centre, wearing red) poses with her colleagues and friends prior to being named winner of the Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Individual). (Photo: UHN)

Local Impact Award, Technology & Innovation (Team) – Materials Management is a system-wide group who a nominator says "supply the lifeblood of product that is needed for patient care across UHN." In addition to being responsible for our very busy receiving docks and making sure every one of the hundreds of thousands of items coming to UHN gets where it needs to go, this group is also playing an integral part of the activation team bringing Project Agile live to UHN in the coming weeks.

Local Impact Award, Convergence (Individual) – Christine Bruce, Senior Director of the Laboratory Medicine Program at UHN, is being recognized for her vision and implementation of "We the North," a creative solution to serve the medical laboratory needs of 27 rural and remote hospitals in Ontario that, due to staffing issues, were at risk of not meeting the standard of care or even facing closure without a lab or point-of-care service within reasonable proximity.

Local Impact Award, Convergence (Team) – Radiation Medicine Program MRI Accelerator Team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has advanced the delivery of precision-based, personalized, compassionate cancer care by spearheading since 2019 the operation of new magnetic-resonance-guided radiation therapy in the MR-Linac suite, helping improve health outcomes for patients with cancers that have been historically difficult to treat, including liver and pancreas.

Local Impact Award, Commercialization & Discovery (Individual) – Dr. Phyllis Billia, cardiologist at UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and Senior Scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, has developed a diagnostic tool that measures a patient's degree of clonal hematopoiesis, which is an inflammatory environment linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and also occurs in transplant recipients. It helps clinicians assess a patient's risk for these disease and enable better surveillance of those patients at risk following a transplant.

President's Award, Patient Partner (Individual) – Earl Miller is a UHN Patient Partner who has time and again offered his time, story, expertise and lived experience to help influence UHN research and promote health equity. He has also been an influential contributor to a health equity project focusing on the genetic predisposition of Black men being diagnosed with prostate cancer and raising awareness of the disproportionate risks faced by the Black community. He has also brought a wealth of knowledge to UHN's research strategy to use culturally informed practices in reaching out to patients, particularly those in the Black community who may have had less than positive experiences in health care.

President's Award, Patient Partner (Team) – Centre for Advancing Collaborative Healthcare and Education (CACHE) Patient/Family Advisory Team was established in 2019 to provide direction to the University of Toronto Interprofessional Education Curriculum, which is administered through the U of T's CACHE at UHN. The curriculum spans 4200 health and social care students across 11 programs, and one of the group's key undertakings has been to shift student understanding and demonstrate how crucial it is for inclusion of patients and their families and caregivers as full partners in the health care team. This group has also been instrumental in elevating issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, as well as the impact of social determinants of health.

Thank you to members of the 2023 Local Impact Awards Judging Committee who reviewed all of the inspiring nominations: Dr. Lucas Chartier, Vice President, Quality & Safety; Tamara Dus, Director of Health Services, People & Culture; Pam Hubley, Chief Nursing Executive, Vice President, Health Disciplines; Dr. Jessica Liu, Division Head, General Internal Medicine & Geriatrics; Amy Ma, Senior Business Manager, UHN's Krembil Brain Institute; and Joel Montesanti, Director, Strategic Projects & Planning.

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