Ten great things that happened this week

(August 6, 2020) – Living and working through COVID-19 is tough, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the wonderful things that are happening at our sites – and for our people – along the way.

Each week, we’re sharing a list of 10 great things that happened this week. Do you have a story you’d like to share? Send it to communications@unityhealth.to.

1) We celebrated Unity Health Toronto’s third anniversary on August 1

Happy third anniversary to our incredible and large team of staff, learners and physicians at Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital! To celebrate our network’s anniversary, we highlighted our COVID-19 response by the numbers to demonstrate the significant contributions we’ve made to keep our staff and communities safe. That includes 53,984 virtual appointments, 15 long-term care and retirement homes supported, 766 redeployed staff, and many others. See full infographic (pdf file)

2) St. Michael’s opened a dedicated Stroke & Neurology Clinic

On August 4, all outpatient stroke and general neurology services at St. Michael’s consolidated into one expanded space in 6 Bond North. The new Stroke & Neurology Clinic will have all of these services centralized in one space to better serve our patients. The new Clinic also includes a larger care team consisting of four physicians and a clinical nurse specialist in order to expand the Clinic’s patient care capacity.

3) We spotlight how the challenges of COVID-19 improved cancer consultations for a group of physicians

For more than a decade, physicians at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s participated in multidisciplinary cancer conferences where they discussed diagnosis and treatment options for patients. During COVID-19, they had to come up with ways to do this virtually. Since April, nearly a dozen surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists and radiologists at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s – as well as a radiation oncologist from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre – have connected weekly over Zoom to discuss certain cancer cases at Unity Health. These meetings help speed up the consultation and treatment process for patients. Read more.

4) Is it safe for students to return to school in September? Our experts weigh in

As September draws closer, Unity Health Toronto’s Dr. Justine Cohen-Silver and Dr. Sloane Freeman are working to answer this question for parents. “At present time, the risks of not attending school in-person far outweigh the risks of infection at school,” said Dr. Freeman. Drs. Cohen-Silver and Freeman are part of an advisory group of Ontario pediatricians, led by The Hospital for Sick Children, that is providing guidance for the province and school administrators on the safe reopening of schools in September. Read more about their findings.

5) New clinical guidelines for obesity put the patient first. Our experts weigh in on this approach

New Canadian clinical guidelines for obesity encourages doctors and health care teams to focus on a patient’s overall health and lived experience rather than just their weight. The guidelines, which haven’t been updated in almost 15 years, no longer outline Body Mass Index as the primary tool to identify obesity. Dr. Tara Kiran, a family physician and researcher at St. Michael’s, spoke to the Toronto Star about the importance of having patient-centered and productive conversations with patients living with obesity. Read the full story.

6) Birth rates are expected to decline because of the pandemic. Our experts weigh in

Financial concerns, uncertainty about employment and fear of increasing medical appointments are just a few of the factors expected to contribute to a significant decline in birth rates in Canada. Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, Obstetrician at St. Joseph’s, speaks to this recent shift and adds that we will be better able to determine the impact of this by July and August of next year, which is statistically when most babies are born in Canada. Read more.

7) We spotlight Dr. Janet Smylie’s recent Canada Research Chair appointment and the work that lies ahead

Dr. Janet Smylie’s goal as the new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health is to advance the delivery of health care to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. Part of that work includes her plan to build health systems performance measurement for Indigenous people, and addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health care both at the provider and system levels. Read a profile of Dr. Smylie.

8) Is it safe that Toronto has officially moved to stage 3? Our experts weigh in

As Toronto prepared to enter stage 3 on July 31, Dr. Irfan Dhalla, Vice-President of Physician Quality at Unity Health, said that he supports the move but also expects new outbreaks. He said the goal throughout Stage 3 has to remain keeping the number of new case in a steady decline. “There is no stable equilibrium of a few hundred cases a day. That is a really dangerous situation,” said Dr. Dhalla. Read more.

9) Next in #BehindTheMask, we spotlight Janice Brown-Martin, a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s

Janice Brown-Martin is a Home Dialysis nurse, which means part of her job is visiting patients at home to address any concerns they may be experiencing related to their dialysis. Since the pandemic started, she’s only been able to connect with her patients through phone calls. “Sometimes it’s hard for a patient to explain the problem they’re having. When you have the face-to-face interaction you can see what’s going on… it helps our patients feel more calm,” said Brown-Martin. See the latest #BehindTheMask post.

10) We spotlight a study led by St. Michael’s that outlines how vegetables can help combat high blood pressure

Dr. Vladimir Vuksan of St. Michael’s led a study that suggests consuming four servings of nitrate-rich vegetables like greens or beets has beneficial effects on blood pressure for both healthy individuals and those with hypertension. Read more.