In the news

2020

July 10

How do contact tracing apps work, and what do I need to know about them?
CBC Radio
Interview with Dr. Prabhat Jha
Dr Prabhat Jha, Director of the Centre for Global Health Research, at St Michael’s Hospital, and Professor of epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto answers questions about contact tracing.

July 9

Should we be testing for COVID-19 after death? An Ontario man thinks so
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha
An Ontario man says he wants to see more post-mortem COVID-19 testing, after a Windsor hospital denied a swab test request following the death of his grandmother.

Eliminating COVID-19 cases in Canada will exact too heavy a toll on society, health experts say
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Some public health and infectious disease experts are pressing for governments in Canada to shift to minimizing, not eradicating, COVID-19 while allowing society to resume functioning.

July 7

Health experts press Ottawa for a more ‘balanced approach’ to tackling COVID-19 pandemic
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Some of Canada’s top public-health experts say the country’s focus on wiping out the coronavirus is posing “significant risks to overall population health,” as other priorities take a backseat to the pandemic.

July 6

Will COVID-19 become like the annual flu?
HealthyDebate.ca
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
It’s true that many infectious diseases follow a seasonal pattern with infection rates going up and down as the weather changes. For instance, influenza cases tend to peak during fall and winter months in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

July 3

Toronto’s COVID-19 divide stretches beyond regional boundaries
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
Toronto’s northwest corner — which has been hardest hit by COVID-19 — is part of a larger hot spot of vulnerability that extends beyond the edges of the city, suggesting a broader regional cluster of high infection rates that defies boundaries and is exploiting socioeconomic inequalities, according to experts and public health data.

June 28

Toronto’s COVID-19 divide: The city’s northwest corner has been ‘failed by the system’
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
When Toronto Public Health released its map of neighbourhoods hardest hit by COVID-19, for people in the city’s northwest it felt like déjà vu.

June 26

When Toronto doctors wanted to ease pandemic pregnancy fears, an Instagram star was born
Toronto Star
Interview with Dr. Tali Bogler
In the final weeks of March, after the WHO declared a pandemic and as thousands of patients in New York City hospitals battled COVID-19, Dr. Tali Bogler saw panic in the faces of her pregnant patients.

Is Ontario having a mission-accomplished moment with COVID-19?
TVO.org
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
June has been a good month in Ontario’s battle against COVID-19. The numbers are striking, no matter how you look at them. On June 1, there were 801 people hospitalized with the disease in Ontario; as of yesterday, that number was 256.

June 25

Is it safe to go back to the dentist?
New York Times
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
Dentists are donning head-to-toe protective equipment, switching to laser instruments and taking other steps to reassure patients that it’s safe to get back in the chair.

Song of thanks strikes the right chord
The Catholic Register
Interview with Shawn Brady; comments by Jacqueline Janelle
Shawn Brady sees the heroes every day he walks into Providence Healthcare in Toronto’s east end, and has for years. But he’s got a new appreciation of just how heroic these people are since COVID-19 struck, particularly at long-term care facilities where the toll has been highest.

June 23

Will my hot flash set off a temperature check? Your COVID-19 questions answered
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Mark Downing
Can COVID-19 spread through sweat? The answer is a hard no from our experts.

Preventing dangerous blood clots from COVID-19 is proving tricky
ScienceNews
Comments by Dr. Michelle Sholzberg
For some severely ill COVID-19 patients, the struggle to take in enough air is not only due to having fluid-clogged lungs. The quest for oxygen also is stymied by a plethora of blood clots.

Rising rates of COVID-19 in children, adolescents spark concerns about back to school plans
The Globe and Mail
Commments by Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak
Rising rates of COVID-19 in children and adolescents in Canada are prompting concerns about the spread of disease and highlighting the need for answers about how well children transmit the virus as daycares and schools reopen.

June 22

Capital funding of health care in Canada is critical, yet declined in last 20 years
SCIENMAG
Comments by Dr. David Klein
Capital funding of health care, used to build new hospitals, redesign or upgrade existing facilities and invest in new technologies, has declined in Canada over the last 20 years, according to an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

WHO reports highest single day record of world COVID-19 cases
Zoomer Radio
Interview with Dr. Prabhat Jha
Over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the highest single-day record of world-wide COVID-19 cases. We ask our health experts to weigh in on this latest development.

June 21

They didn’t want to go to rehab. But some COVID-19 survivors have a long road back to normal
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Ashley Verduyn
Ashley Comrie just wanted to go home. It was late May, and the 37-year-old had just spent three terrifying weeks at Toronto General Hospital, fighting a COVID-19 infection that landed her in the intensive care unit, where she narrowly avoided intubation. Lying on her stomach, hooked up to oxygen, she had felt as if she were underwater, breathing through a straw. Death seemed a distinct possibility.

June 20

Scientists aren’t waiting around for governments to launch antibody testing
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha
Canadian scientists counting on antibody testing to learn more about COVID-19 and how to fight the respiratory illness aren’t waiting for the government to act — increasingly, they’re forging ahead themselves.

June 19

A special thank you to health care workers (video)
CityNews
A Toronto man living with Down Syndrome used his 38th birthday to say a big thank you to healthcare workers at Providence Healthcare.

A patient’s experience at the ED during COVID-19
Hospital News
Interview with Dr. Nadine Laraya
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people may have fears about seeking medical attention at hospitals – that they might expose themselves to the virus, or be an unnecessary burden on the health system. Paravaneh Laraya learned those fears aren’t necessary.

 

June 17

How COVID-19 cases among the homeless overwhelm St. Mike’s Hospital
Toronto Star
Op-ed by Dr. Carolyn Snider
One year ago, I called a Code Orange at St. Michael’s Hospital during the parade following the Toronto Raptors NBA championship victory. A large influx of patients arrived at our emergency department after a shooting in the crowd. When the number of patients in our hospital exceeds our resources, calling a Code Orange establishes a “command centre” that initiates a co-ordinated response and increases resources needed to help us manage the crisis.

June 14

COVID-19 was killing him. How a last-resort intervention brought this Toronto man back from the brink
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Karen Burns
The phone call Irena Veronese was dreading came on a chilly spring evening.

How ‘superspreading’ helps drive the coronavirus pandemic
Global News
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
Around 30 people recently attended a family gathering in the Fraser Health Region in B.C. and 15 of them left infected with the novel coronavirus, according to the province’s top doctor.

June 13

Stories of the front line: The people, groups and businesses making a difference
CBC Toronto
Featuring Evan Lee, Emily Speelziek, Mirela Savic and Laura Chiriac; Comments by Caroline Monteiro
Patients at Providence Healthcare — a Scarborough facility specializing in rehabilitation — who require orthopedic and amputee rehabilitation can still access specialized services even if they have COVID-19.

June 11

‘Alarm fatigue’ may be the reason you’re washing your hands less
CBC Radio – The Current
Interview with Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak
Are you finding it tough to keep up with changing COVID-19 guidelines? Something called “caution fatigue” could be to blame.

Toronto Trailblazers 2020: Janet Smylie is tracking COVID-19 in Indigenous communities
NOW magazine
Profile of Dr. Janet Smylie
For over 25 years, Janet Smylie, one of Canada’s first Métis doctors, has made it her mission to bring awareness to the injustices faced by the Indigenous community and to foster progress in the country’s health-care system.

June 10

Can my fan or air conditioner spread coronavirus? Your COVID-19 questions answered
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Mark Downing
From sweat to fans to air conditioning, CBC News answered some hot summer questions.

COVID-19 antibody tests remain elusive in Canada
Yahoo News Canada
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha
In March, a few days after returning home from Vancouver, I started feeling sick. First, it was sneezing and a runny nose, which lasted two days. Then my symptoms morphed into fatigue, aches, chest congestion, digestion issues and no appetite.

June 9

COVID-19 rehab and recovery program opens at Scarborough’s Providence
Toronto.com
Comments by Caroline Monteiro and Laura Chiriac
Patients who require orthopedic and amputee rehabilitation still require these specialized services — even if they have COVID-19. Rising to meet this need, Providence Healthcare, a hospital known for its excellent rehabilitation services, opened a brand new COVID-19 positive rehab and recovery program in April designed to care for COVID-19 positive patients.

 

June 7

Will summer slow the coronavirus pandemic?
Global News
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
Summer is just around the corner, bringing hot weather, humidity and hopefully, lots of sunshine. And as we face the prospect of a pandemic summer, researchers have been digging into whether the nice weather might affect the spread of the novel coronavirus, and what that means for COVID-19 in Canada.

June 5

Toronto doctors take COVID-19 testing to the people in effort to contain pandemic
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Whenever the assessment centre at Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital confirms a new case of COVID-19, Jeff Powis and his colleagues pop the patient’s address into Google Maps and look for patterns.

June 3

Race-based data
CBC Ottawa Morning
Interview with Dr. Andrew Pinto
Should the federal government be collecting more race-based data on people?

First large-scale survey in Canada will study antibodies specific to COVID-19
CTV News
Interview with Dr. Prabhat Jha
Unlocking the extent of COVID-19 in the country might be 10,000 pin pricks away.

June 1

Blood kits to be sent to 10,000 Canadians to survey extent of COVID-19 in Canada
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha
With 10,000 pinpricks, Prabhat Jha hopes to find out what no one else has been able to discern: How many Canadians have already been affected by COVID-19?

10,000 Canadians to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies in hopes of understanding immunity
CTV News
Comments by Dr. Prabhat Jha

After a person has developed antibodies against COVID-19, how long does that immunity last?

May 29

Examining hot spots for community spread across Ontario
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Gary Bloch
Most of Canada has successfully reined in the coronavirus. The exceptions are Ontario and Quebec, which account for 86 per cent of the country’s cases and 94 per cent of its deaths, according to the most recent figures from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

May 28

‘It’s a mutiny. Wow.’ Ontario’s public health units are acting to protect their regions — and the province has to listen
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
The province has to embrace this, and fix this. On Wednesday, Ontario’s 34 public health units, in the face of an inflexible approach and insufficient leadership amid a pandemic, decided to take some controfor themselves.

Narrow focus to supporting ‘subpopulations,’ says expert, in preparation for second wave of the pandemic
The Hill Times
Comments by Dr. Farah Mawani
As Canada braces for what officials are predicting could be a second wave of COVID-19 cases, some public health experts say the federal government should shift its focus to rolling out supports for “subpopulations” of the Canadian public, but be careful to not step on the jurisdictional toes of its provinces and territories.

City of Toronto breaks down geographic spread of COVID-19
The National – CBC News (video – segment begins at 10:17)
Comments by Dr. Gary Bloch
More than three quarters of Ontario’s cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, many of those in Toronto proper. But until yesterday we didn’t know where those cases were being detected.

Pandemic shaming
Global News Morning
Interview with Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak
When images first surfaced of the crowds at Trinity-Bellwoods Park, they sparked a massive reaction. One ER doctor had a similar response until he started thinking about solutions.

May 27

Ventilator supplies to grow in Canada while need shifts to developing world
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Arthur Slutsky
The federal government has ordered the manufacture of 10,000 additional ventilators to bolster the national supply in case a resurgence of COVID-19 sends thousands of critically ill patients into intensive care later this year. But the real need may be in the Southern Hemisphere, where new cases of the disease are on the rise and strategies for cheaply making or adapting the critical-care devices could come into play in a way that has so far not been required in Canada.

May 25

Sure, get angry about Trinity Bellwoods park — then find a better way to talk to people about risk, says ER doctor
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak
When he first saw the now-notorious photos of Trinity Bellwoods — the popular downtown park that drew hordes of sun worshippers over the weekend — Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak had the same gut reaction as many others who vented on social media: Anger. Disappointment. Frustration.

May 23

Masks: Everything you need to know but might be too afraid to ask
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Mark Downing
With the country reopening, and Canadian public health officials now recommending the use of masks in public, we took your most common or curious questions to the experts.

Read the stories of this week’s CBC Toronto Front-line Heroes
CBC Toronto
Profiles of Dr. Alex Caudarella and Denise Galszechy
CBC Toronto wants to introduce you to all the people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic through a series we’re calling Front-line Heroes.

Voices from the ER: Doctors from across Canada weigh in on why you shouldn’t stay away
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Samuel Vaillancourt
At the beginning of the pandemic, Canada’s once frenetic emergency departments went strangely quiet as patients stayed home and stayed away.

May 22

Adapting practices to protect expecting parents, newborns
Hospital News
Comments by Dr. Tali Bogler
Across Canada and around the globe, physicians and health care professionals are rapidly adapting practices as they look to find effective ways to deliver care while minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19 for patients and health care providers. To help keep regular pre- and post-natal care and routine well-child visits on track, Dr. Tali Bogler came up with an alternative to the typical schedule to keep these patients safe during the pandemic.

Canada is reopening without knowing where Canadians are getting COVID-19
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Irfan Dhalla
Canada is emerging from months of lockdown, but key questions remain unanswered about where Canadians are getting infected with COVID-19 and why case levels remain high in our hardest-hit provinces.

May 21

Feds’ proposal for national testing framework may invite pushback from provinces, but experts say standards ‘essential’ as economy reopens
The Hill Times (subscription)
Comments by Dr. Andrew Pinto
As the federal government eyes the development of a national testing and contact tracing
framework, public health experts are welcoming the commitment, saying it is crucial that it be
drafted collaboratively, to ease any worries that Ottawa is overstepping its bounds.

May 19

Fertility clinics begin phased reopening as COVID-19 fears fade
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Michelle O’Connor
Fertility clinics across Canada that shut down services in March because of COVID-19 are beginning to resume treatments now that concerns about overwhelmed hospital systems and protective gear shortages have started to fade.

May 18

Why it’s so hard to ramp up Ontario’s COVID-19 testing. We take a look behind the scenes
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Larissa Matukas
Perhaps at no time in Ontario’s history has a five-digit data point been the focus of so much scrutiny, dispute, congratulation and anguish.

May 16

Read the stories of this week’s CBC Toronto Front-line Heroes
CBC Toronto
Profile of Amelia Pendleton and Nicole Champagne; Comments by Nicole Etherington
When homeless shelters in the city deal with COVID-19 outbreaks, Amelia Pendleton and Nicole Champagne help people with no fixed address find safe places to isolate.

May 15

What we know about your chances of catching the virus outdoors
The New York Times
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
The warmer weather across the country calls to mind carefree summers — picnics in the park, swimming at the beach, fireworks on the Fourth. But nothing feels carefree now.

How pharmacists are fighting COVID-19 misinformation
Contagion Live
Interview with Elizabeth Leung
Elizabeth Leung talks about the work being done by the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists.

May 14

Métis doctor tapped to help analyze data gaps in counting Indigenous COVID-19 cases
CBC News
Profile of Dr. Janet Smylie
Dr. Janet Smylie has dedicated much of her over two-decade career as a Métis physician and leader in the field of Indigenous health to shedding light on the injustices Indigenous people face in Canada’s health-care system.

May 13

Challenges new and expectant moms face during coronavirus pandemic
Citytv Toronto
Comments by Dr. Tali Bogler
Being pregnant can be physically and mentally tough, let alone adding in the stress of a deadly pandemic.

May 12

Manitoba charts new course by collecting race-based data on COVID-19
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Andrew Pinto
Manitoba has become the first province to track the ethnicity of COVID-19 patients in an effort to detect inequities in the toll of the pandemic, while Quebec and Ontario have announced plans to do the same – a major shift in how Canada measures and tackles the new coronavirus crisis, researchers say.

May 11

My grocery store did a deep cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. What does that even mean?
Toronto Star
Comments by Heather Fletcher
It’s a term that’s on the tip of many tongues — everywhere from hospitals to warehouses to grocery stores — as the province begins to take cautious steps towards reopening.

May 9

More drinking, more pot use and fewer avenues to get help — the ‘forgotten crisis’ within COVID-19
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Alexander Caudarella
A cross-Canada survey shows alcohol and pot use increasing among people struggling with mental health issues during isolation.

Read the stories of this week’s CBC Toronto ‘Front-line Heroes’
CBC Toronto
Alaina Cox is featured
“A compassionate nurse who always puts the patients first,” is how Swanee Tobin describes her former colleague, Alaina Cox.

May 8

Study pours cold water on hopes that warm weather will defeat COVID-19
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Peter Jüni
The pandemic is unlikely to take a summer vacation, according to new University of Toronto-led research — a study that suggests weak impacts of warm weather on COVID-19, but strong reassurance that social distancing works.

May 7

Elimination, not adaptation, is the courageous COVID-19 choice for Canada
The Globe and Mail
Commentary Dr. Irfan Dhalla
A new report from Australia’s leading universities defines two distinct goals that every country must choose between in deciding how to tackle COVID-19. It’s a choice that we are making in Canada right now, even without a public debate.

May 6

Mobile meditation brings relaxation to the forefront for health-care workers
CTV News Toronto
Comments by Jennifer Stewart, Stacey Connors and Vanessa King
One Toronto health-care centre is trying to bring self-care to the workplace, utilizing a unique new service.

Mobile meditation studio visits Scarborough health-care facility
CBC News Toronto
Comments by Viani Tropiano
Front-line healthcare workers at a facility in Scarborough were given the opportunity to relax for a few minutes Wednesday — thanks to a mobile meditation studio.

HIV Drug Being Studied in Clinical Trials for Treatment of COVID-19
The Epoch Times
Comments by Dr. Darrell Tan
An infectious diseases doctor in Toronto is heading up clinical trials of an antiretroviral drug used in the treatment of HIV infection to determine if the same therapy can be used to treat COVID-19.

COVID-19 is causing blood to thicken. Common blood thinners might keep it from killing the sickest
National Post
Comments Dr. Michelle Sholzberg
Not only was it scary that people were dying from COVID-19. For cardiologist Anu Lala and her colleagues at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital, what was particularly frightening was seeing younger patients die, and die suddenly.

When parents can’t hold their preemies, hospitals are doing this instead
HuffPost
Comments by Alie Drabble
Nothing can ever truly prepare a parent for having their baby sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after delivery. No amount of reading or planning can make it any easier. And when a global pandemic hits, all of that fear and stress is only compounded, making the NICU experience even more challenging.

May 5

COVID-19 testing is vital. Here’s what’s holding us back.
Broadview
Commentary by Dr. Larissa Matukas
I’m head of microbiology and biosafety for St. Michael’s Hospital and Unity Health, a network of Catholic hospitals in Toronto. It’s my job to help us prepare and implement testing for COVID-19. My days are always busy but now more than ever.

April 30

‘Very thoughtful’: notes, art, food raise Scarborough seniors’ spirits
Toronto.com
Comments by Dr. Ashley Verduyn
Before Meals on Wheels bags are carried out of the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, Lori Beesley staples paper notes to them.

April 29

Scientists wait months for coronavirus research grants. This economist is trying to fix that.
Washington Post
Comments by Dr. Jonathon Maguire
Economist Tyler Cowen first sounded the alarm that America is unprepared for a pandemic in 2005, when he wrote a paper outlining ways the country should respond and, for a few years, ran a blog focused on the possibility of an avian flu outbreak.

When is it safe for kids to go back to school? Two Canadian projects adding data to the ‘passionate debates’
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Jonathon Maguire
This week, 250 Toronto families received a package of swabs in the mail. Parents will swab their kids and themselves and send the samples back to be tested for COVID-19, and repeat this weekly — a faucet of data to help answer urgent questions about the role children play in driving transmission of the coronavirus.

April 25

Read the stories of this week’s CBC Toronto ‘Front-line Heroes’
CBC Toronto
Profile of Dr. Nadine Laraya
Several of Dr. Nadine Laraya’s colleagues wanted to send her a shout-out for being a hero on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 24

The doctor’s diary: Coronavirus dispatches from an ER physician in Toronto
The Globe and Mail
Commentary by Dr. James Maskalyk
Patients sit in chairs two metres apart, eyes darting above their masks. The nurses and I are gathered in long yellow gowns a few paces away, behind a rolling steel wall.

A doctor fact-checks seven “things we heard” about fertility
Flare
Comments by Dr. Yolanda Kirkham
Generalizing broadly, most women’s attitudes towards our own fertility can be summarized by this line, which seems to come up whenever I talk to my friends about having babies: “You spend your whole life trying not to get pregnant. Then when you actually do want to get pregnant, it’s like…what now?”

Using existing studies to generate new understandings of COVID-19
Medical Xpress
Research by Dr. Andrea Tricco
Existing research may hold the key to treating and preventing COVID-19, suggests the work of a St. Michael’s Hospital research team.

April 23

Health care in the age of COVID-19
Zoomer Radio
Interview with Dr. Anish Kirpalani
How is the COVID-19 health crisis impacting Canadians who have had their elective surgeries put on hold for different types of medical conditions?

April 21

St. Michael’s Hospital opens dialysis centre in Thorncliffe Park
Toronto.com
Comments by Jonathan Fetros
A new, state-of-the-art facility for those requiring dialysis is now open in Thorncliffe Park. Located on the ground floor of a former Target store at the East York Town Centre, the 20,000-square-foot St. Michael’s Kidney Care Centre has 21 dialysis stations for patients, six more for hemodialysis training, transition and support, and general kidney care clinics.

 

April 19

To ventilate or not to ventilate? With COVID-19 there’s no clear path
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Laurent Brochard
The storm within a coronavirus patient. Lungs that show up white on a CT-scan rather than black, the inverse of healthy. A profusion of viral particles and dead cell detritus in the lobes – called “ground glass opacity”, because that’s what the scatter resembles, crushed glass.

April 18

Why COVID-19 may attack the body differently than we think
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Jeffrey Perl
Understanding how COVID-19 attacks the human body is essential to developing an effective treatment or vaccine to stop the global pandemic — but there’s still so much we don’t know about how it can kill us.

April 17

‘It’s heartbreaking’: Homeless during pandemic left out in the cold — figuratively and literally
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
Red and blue tents dot the landscape in Montreal’s Cabot Square. It’s not a farmers market or a craft show, but a makeshift place for the homeless to go during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will it really take ‘weeks’ to ease physical distancing? Maybe not
CBC News
Comments by Dr. Matthew Muller
How much longer? That’s the visceral plea from Canadians who have been stuck at home for more than a month, many trapped in private purgatory.

People are getting fed up with strict park rules
Vice News
Comments by Farah Mawani
Bodine Waterfire is starting to feel like a criminal every time she takes her dog for a walk. “I’m looking around, my eyes are darting, I kind of crouch down low because there’s a fence; I’m like, maybe they won’t see me,” Waterfire said.

April 16

Indigenous communities, systemic racism and COVID-19
This Matters podcast, Toronto Star
Interview with Dr. Janet Smylie
It’s true that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate: anyone can get sick and potentially die from it. But the social systems that Canada has created often can discriminate.

April 15

Limited data on ventilator use for COVID-19 patients: respiratory therapist
Canadian Press
Comments by Thomas Piraino
Vicki Kap’s family thought she had a cold but less than two days after arriving in hospital she was placed on a ventilator and died of COVID-19.

 

April 8

Unlike Canadians, Americans at least know how Black people are faring with COVID-19 (very badly)
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Andrew Pinto
COVID-19’s impact on Black people is highlighting the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Canada. They collect data. We don’t. We have universal health care. They don’t. But underlying structures in both nations are deeply racist, which means Black people on both sides of the border live in circumstances that leave them more vulnerable to illnesses at the best of times — and now make them susceptible to the ravages of the pandemic.

April 7

Patches on X-rays, breathing troubles, and ‘odd presentations.’ What COVID-19 looks like to Ontario hospitals
Toronto Star
Comments by Dr. Laurent Brochard
As an emergency room doctor in Ottawa, Dr. Rohit Gandhi is used to seeing people in serious distress. They usually fit the profile of someone at risk of becoming extremely ill — maybe they’re elderly or live rough on the streets, or suffer from a serious medical condition.

April 4

In Canada’s coronavirus fight, front-line workers miss their families, fear the worst and hope they’re ready
The Globe and Mail
Comments by Dr. Tim Rutledge
Hospitals across the country are bracing for what’s expected to be a rush of new coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

April 2

In the war against COVID-19, ventilators face their toughest mission yet
c|net
Comments by Dr. Art Slutsky
If it wasn’t so macabre it would be almost poetic: An illness that aggressively attacks the lungs, caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, has spread so rapidly and completely that we’ve barely had time to stop and catch our breath.

Osimertinib may be beneficial for NSCLC patients with intracranial metastasis
M.D./alert
Comments by Dr. Sunit Das
Results of a systematic review and meta-analysis support a possible role for osimertinib in the management of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with intracranial metastatic disease, researchers say.

March 27

Ontario clinicians bracing for ‘surge’ of COVID-19 patients — but exact timing hard to predict
CBC Toronto
Comments by Dr. Carolyn Snider
Front-line healthcare workers are bracing for a “surge” in COVID-19 patients, which could hit Ontario hospitals within weeks — though the exact timing, experts warn, is hard to predict.

March 25

Why the emergency departments look empty amid a viral outbreak
National Post
Comments by Dr. Carolyn Snider
The sound of Nicole Odermatt’s son gasping for air woke her just after midnight. The Cambridge, Ont., mom immediately recognized an attack of croup, which the six-year-old had faced several times before. But even as his lips turned blue, she admits to hesitating before she ultimately called an ambulance.

Mandatory self-isolation for those returning to Canada starts March 26
CBC News Network
Comments by Dr. Carolyn Snider
Beginning Thursday, travellers returning to Canada will have mandatory self-isolation for 14 days. The chief of emergency medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital says it’s important for people to stay at home — and important to have enforcement if they don’t.

Lung cancer therapy may improve outcomes of metastatic brain cancer
Scienmag
Comments by Anders Erickson and Dr. Sunit Das
A medication commonly used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, or metastasized, may have benefits for patients with metastatic brain cancers, suggests a new review and analysis led by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto and Harvard Medical School.

March 24

A message from the ICU team at St. Michael’s Hospital (video)
CBC News The National
Featuring staff from St. Michael’s Intensive Care Unit

March 20

“We envisioned the whole thing as a conveyor belt”: How St. Mike’s doctors created a Covid-19 assessment centre from scratch
Toronto Life
Commentary by Dr. Joel Lockwood
As an emergency physician and trauma team leader at St. Michael’s Hospital, I’ve been paying close attention to developments in the Covid-19 outbreak over the past few months. Once we got our first confirmed cases in Canada, our team knew we needed a plan.

March 18

Two Italian doctors look to colleagues’ wisdom in leading the critical-care team at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital
The Globe and Mail
Interview with Drs. Alberto Goffi and Andrea Rigamonti
Among the biggest challenges facing Canadian critical-care doctors as they brace themselves for the coronavirus is that most have never treated a single patient made severely ill by the new pathogen, let alone the dozens a day who could soon need their help.

March 13

Do we really need vagina sheet masks?
The Kit
Comments by Dr. Yolanda Kirkham
It was only a matter of time before the wellness wave came for our vaginas. A bevy of new-gen intimate care products infused with “plant-powered” ingredients and promising the pampering our “lady bits” deserve, are aiming to take self-care to new terrain.

March 11

Toronto hospital touts heart procedure for high-risk patients as ‘game-changer’
Canadian Press
Interview with Dr. Neil Fam
A weak heart made simple tasks like walking to the bathroom from his bedroom difficult for Mir Hasan Ali. The 76-year-old retiree says he would tire quickly and feel dizzy if he walked more than a few minutes.

March 5

The Keto diet: why bother?
Ontario Today, CBC Radio
Interview with Dr. David Jenkins
This low-carb, high-fat diet was ranked worst by a US panel of specialists. But it’s still popular. Our guest nutritional scientist Dr. David Jenkins helped formulate Canadian and US guidelines for diabetes and led the team that first defined the glycemic index of foods.

March 4

Honouring women in STEM for International Women’s Day
Breakfast Television, Citytv Toronto
Interviews with Dr. Shannon Dunn and Dr. Dalia Rotstein
Two of St. Michael’s researchers (Dr. Dalia Rotstein and Dr. Shannon Dunn) were featured in a BT Toronto story  about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8.

March

New online tool directs patients and visitors to support services in the community
Hospital News
Interviews with Lauren Massey and Tedi Brash
Often, discharged patients, community members or visitors come to Unity Health Toronto staff asking for help to find social care such as crisis services, financial support, abuse resources, housing options or support for newcomers.

Creating an AI-powered solution to address scheduling challenges
Hospital News
Comments by Ray Howald and Dr. Muhammad Mamdani
It was less than a year ago that Ray Howald, the clinical leader manager of the Emergency Department (ED) at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, thought out loud, “Would it be possible to create a system that does this for us?”

Seeing green: Unity Health Toronto implements various sustainability initiatives
Hospital News
Comments by Dayalan Thevathasan and Dr. Syed Ali Abbass

First the plastic straws went. Then it was Styrofoam and plastic materials such as utensils, take-out containers, soup bowls and lids, coffee cups and lids, stir sticks, and plates. Compost bins and a cooking-oil recycling project were also implemented.

New trauma bay shows the impact of simulations on hospital design
Hospital News
Comments by Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak and Margaret Moy Lum-Kwong
A brand new trauma bay has opened inside St. Michael’s Hospital’s Slaight Family Emergency Department (ED) after a lengthy and carefully planned testing and design process that ensured trauma patients will get the best possible care when they need it most.

Thinking outside the box to improve surgical safety for patients
Canadian Healthcare Technology
Profile of the International Centre for Surgical Safety with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital
How does an operating room’s team culture impact a patient’s surgical outcomes? What about the number of times the OR door opens during a procedure? Or the types of distractions the team experiences while performing surgery?

Feb. 26

How to travel during the international coronavirus outbreak
Comments by Dr. Kamran Khan
Vox
The map of Covid-19 spread around the world looks a lot different than it did just a week ago. While new infections are slowing down in China, they’re rapidly picking up pace around the globe. Of the people infected with the virus, at least in China, around 2 per cent die. Individuals over the age of 50 are overrepresented among the severe cases and deaths, as well as people with underlying health conditions. So, someone who is elderly or immunocompromised from a chronic disease should think differently about their risk of severe infection “compared to a healthy 18-year-old,” said Dr. Khan, an author on the modeling studies cited in the article.

Feb. 20

Trends in lower-extremity amputations for diabetes and peripheral artery disease
Q&A with Dr. Charles de Mestral
Hospital News
Together, diabetes and peripheral artery disease account for more than 80 per cent of lower-extremity amputations in Canada. A recent study by St. Michael’s Hospital vascular surgeons, Dr. Mohammed Al-Omran and Dr. Charles de Mestral, has found that lower-extremity amputations related to diabetes and peripheral arterial disease have increased over the last decade in Ontario.

 

Feb. 12

4 tips on handling Toronto’s slippery sidewalks this winter
Tips from Jessica Casey and Julia Filinski
Toronto.com

Though it’s been a milder winter than usual in Toronto, fluctuating temperatures can pose unexpected risks for slips and falls. The warmer days and sudden temperature drops at night can create sheets of ice that are dangerous when unnoticed. The Falls Prevention Clinic at Providence Healthcare takes a holistic, interprofessional approach to addressing risks and prevention, and is available to the community through a referral from your family doctor. Occupational therapist Jessica Casey and physiotherapist Julia Filinski at Providence helped develop the Falls Prevention Clinic six years ago and shared their top tips for falls prevention and awareness.

Geriatric Psychiatric Clinic supports complex needs of older adults
Introduces the Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic at Providence
Hospital News

The Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic is part of a multidisciplinary program, The Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto, housed at Providence Healthcare since 1988. The role of the clinic’s geriatric psychiatrists is to assess, consult, and treat elderly patients who may have a mental health issue, dementia syndrome, behaviour disorder, or a psychosocial problem. Referrals to the clinic come primarily from family physicians, geriatricians, and neurologists. A critical component of the program is the community outreach service, which involves health care professionals visiting patients in their homes to identify factors that contribute to frailty in the elderly.

Feb. 10

Community Health Navigators offer ‘safety net’ for patients going home
Comments by Monica McCullagh and Kelly Tough
Hospital News

At Providence Healthcare, the Community Health Navigator role supports patients after discharge and rehab patients receive either a live or an automated phone call – based on their preference – to check on how they’re doing. These calls happen at the 48-hour, 30-day and four-month points after discharge. Monica McCullagh, one of three Community Health Navigators (CHN), said the navigators make sure the discharge plans are being followed, that physician referrals are in motion and that they have the medications they need.

Feb. 9

Armes à feu : Ottawa veut permettre le signalement des personnes à risque
Ici Radio-Canada Première Toronto
Comments by Dr. Samuel Vaillancourt
Le ministre de la Sécurité publique, Bill Blair, compte présenter un projet de loi incluant la possibilité d’alerter les autorités en cas de comportement à risque de personnes possédant des armes à feu.

Feb. 6

Traumatic brain injury in homeless people is underrecognized
Comments by Dr. Stephen Hwang
Neurology Today

A recent review in The Lancet Public Health found the lifetime prevalence of any severity of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in homeless and marginally housed individuals was 53.1 percent, and the lifetime prevalence of either moderate or severe TBI was 22.5 percent. Dr. Stephen Hwang, an internist, homelessness researcher, and director of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said living on the streets or in a shelter is a hazardous environment. He said neurologists treating homeless patients should be aware of the possibility that a history of TBI could be the cause of behavioral issues, seizures or unexplained cognitive deficits. He helped craft recommendations issued in October 2018 by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council that focus on the care of patients who are homeless and living with the effects of TBI.

Jan. 31

Plastic-free periods: Reusable menstrual products are going mainstream (scroll for the article)
Interview with Dr. Yolanda Kirkham
CBC News

Every year, tens of billions of single-use pads and tampons go into landfills — material that takes hundreds of years to decompose. The average user goes through between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and/or tampons in a lifetime. Reusable menstrual products have been available for a while, but they’re becoming increasingly mainstream. Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, a gynecologist at. St. Joseph’s Health Centre of Unity Health Toronto, said a lot of her patients have been using reusable products for several years, indicating those who make the switch end up sticking with it.

Jan. 26

How the design of a new trauma centre at St. Michael’s Hospital is meant to save precious seconds, and lives
Interviews with Candis Kokoski, Dr. Bernard Lawless, Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak and Dr. Carolyn Snider
The Toronto Star

Trauma teams at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital spent countless hours in the last year and a half trying to shave minutes and seconds off treatment times for critically injured patients. But in the type of Level 1 trauma centre the hospital opened last week to the city’s most gravely injured patients, minutes and seconds are the medicine of life. The quicker, more coordinated and efficient the treatment, the greater the chance of survival, says Dr. Bernard Lawless, medical director of the hospital’s trauma program. The upgrade has a much better layout to more smoothly, efficiently manage patents as they come through the doors, said Dr. Lawless. The new equipment is certainly an upgrade in the incremental way that new versions of technologies typically improve on the older, but it’s the placement of the equipment, the logistical layout of the cabinets, the shelves, the smallest details — that will make the most difference.

Jan. 21

Study finds female soccer players more likely to undergo medical assessments after head trauma than men
Research by Dr. Michael Cusimano
The Globe and Mail

Half of elite female soccer players who suffered a head-collision event received medical assessments, compared with a third of male players, according to a study by Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital. In the matches reviewed, 84 per cent of female athletes and 88 per cent of male athletes showed two or more visible signs of concussion after a head collision event, including clutching of the head or disequilibrium. Dr. Cusimano believes the differences in how head collision events are handled between the two genders may lie in the on-field officials – female referees officiate female matches.
– Additional coverage in The Toronto Star, CTV News and Sportsnet

Food insecurity can shorten lifespan
Comments by Dr. Gary Bloch
CBC News

A new study shows that food insecurity – the lack of access to nutritious foods – can shorten someone’s lifespan by nine years. Dr. Gary Bloch, a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital’s Academic Family Health team, was not involved in the study but says that the findings reinforce what he sees in his practice. Dr. Bloch said the prospect of dying earlier due to a lack of access to nutritious food is frightening and should be addressed at the social policy level.

Boys and young men more likely to die than girls and young women, study finds
Research by Dr. Joel Ray
The Canadian Press, via CBC News

A new study shows boys and young men are more likely to die than girls and young women, and they have a greater chance of dying due to injury, particularly from age 14 onwards. The study looked at 3.1 million children born in Ontario between 1990 and 2016 and examined who died and from what cause between the ages of one and 24. Lead author Dr. Joel Ray, a clinician-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said the jump in deaths during adolescence, particularly in boys, is likely due to an increase in risk-taking behaviours, but said biological factors and changes may play a role in those behaviours as well.
– Additional coverage on The Toronto Star

Jan. 14

Bariatric Centre of Excellence opens at Unity Health Toronto
Comments by Sonya Canzian
Toronto.com

Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and Unity Health Toronto have partnered to open a Bariatric Centre of Excellence (BCoE) to provide their communities with access to bariatric surgical care close to home. A BCoE provides services with a team of experts who have adopted best practices to help people manage obesity. The Unity Health – MGH BCoE includes a Bariatric Assessment Centre (BAC) at Providence Healthcare and a partnership of three existing bariatric surgery sites: St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and MGH. Together, the Centre provides comprehensive pre-operative, peri-operative and post-operative bariatric surgical care. Sonya Canzian, Chief Nursing and Health Professions Officer at Unity Health, said the partnership is a patient-focused solution that will benefit hundreds of people every year.

Caught in a crisis: crystal meth addiction in Canada
Comments by Dr. Carolyn Snider
CBC News

Dr. Carolyn Snider, chief of St. Michael’s Hospital’s emergency department, believes it won’t be long until Toronto hospitals see the same levels of crystal meth cases as she did back in Winnipeg while working as an emergency physician. Dr. Snider saw crystal meth become the predominant substance among patients around 2017, and said it was a frustrating period, because as front-line staff were struggling to manage five or six patients actively suffering from meth psychosis at any given time, federal funding and national attention was directed at the opiate crisis. Now at St. Michael’s in Toronto, Dr. Snider sees that opioids are still very much a problem, but she has also seen several cases of meth hallucinations and psychosis, and believes that the drug is moving east.

Jan. 11

Is Canada at risk from a mysterious Chinese virus related to SARS?
Comments by Dr. Kamran Khan
CBC News

An illness in China has been identified as a new coronavirus, a large family of viruses that can make the jump from animals to humans and range from the common cold to much more serious illnesses, such as SARS or MERS. Given the fact that both SARS and the Wuhan outbreak both originated in open-air markets that sold both live and dead animals, the similar origins of the viruses are hard to ignore. Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician and scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto said there are some parallels thinking back to SARS, however we are getting information earlier in this outbreak. He said to get in front of threats, information must move faster than the diseases themselves.

Jan. 8

‘I was pretty broken’: Man shares journey of learning to walk again after serious car crash
Patient story, with comments by Jeff Kestenberg and Dr. Ashley Verduyn
CTV News

J.D. Penner, who was once an avid cyclist and runner, was seriously injured in an Etobicoke crash more than five years ago. He was left with nerve damage, a concussion and fractures all over his body, including the tibia and fibula, clavical, stemum, ribs, vertebra and right hand. After emergency surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital, Penner arrived at Providence Healthcare for between seven and eight weeks of rehabilitation, including learning how to walk again. Penner said he has a lot of love for Providence, and while he doesn’t consider himself to be particularly inspirational, he hopes that his journey might resonate with someone going through something similar.
– Video coverage on CTV News Toronto

East Toronto groups form community-focused health-care network
Mentions Providence and the Toronto East Ontario Health Team
Toronto.com

A new integrated health care network is now up and running in East Toronto. Ontario’s Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott officially named the Toronto East Ontario Health Team, East Toronto Health Partners as it’s being called, as one of the first of 24 new health teams in Ontario. The new team consists of six anchor partners, all of whom have a long track record of working together. They are Michael Garron Hospital, Providence Healthcare, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, VHA Home HealthCare, WoodGreen Community Services and East Toronto Family Practice Network, which is the voice of 260 primary care physicians in East Toronto with the support of a number of organizations with similar offerings.

Induced labor tied to neonatal complications among women with diabetes before pregnancy
Research by Dr. Howard Berger
Healio

Routine induction of labour among women with diabetes before pregnancy is not associated with an increase in the rate of cesarean delivery, but is associated with certain neonatal complications, according to findings published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care. Dr. Howard Berger, lead researcher and head of maternal fetal medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital, said based on this population-based, retrospective data, delivery of women with preexisting diabetes before 39 weeks’ gestation is associated with a higher rate of neonatal complications and does not reduce the cesarean section rate.

Jan. 7

St. Joseph’s hospital gets money to help with wait times and overcrowding
Comments by Dr. Tim Rutledge
The Toronto Star

The Ontario government is providing up to $5 million in funding to cover costs of early planning of redevelopment at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Dr. Tim Rutledge, president and chief executive of Unity Health Toronto, told a news conference the new facilities will help transform patient care in Toronto’s west end.

Not enough home care top concern for Ontario patients, study finds
Research by Dr. Tara Kiran
CBC News

The three biggest problems for patients surveyed about their discharge from Ontario hospitals all concern publicly funded home care, according to new research published in an international medical journal. Dr. Tara Kiran, lead researcher of the study and a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, hopes the findings will encourage improvements in the hospital-to-home transition navigated by some one million patients every year in this province. The study involved more than 700 patients who had been admitted to Ontario hospitals over the previous three years.

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