Ten great things that happened this week

(September 17, 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) St. Joseph’s co-leads new national recycling pilot

Dr. Ali Abbass, a St. Joseph’s anesthesiologist, recognized early on in his practice that operating rooms produce a lot of waste. In fact, just one knee surgery creates more waste than a family of four does in one week. Four years ago, Dr. Ali Abbass created the first PVC Recycling initiative in North America when he started recycling PVC medical devices such as IV bags and oxygen mask and tubing waste at St. Joseph’s. This week, Environment and Climate Change Canada and The Vinyl Institute of Canada announced the launch of PVC 123, the first national Medical PVC Recycling Partnership program. This pilot, led by St. Joseph’s and Humber River Hospital, aims to encourage and expand PVC recycling to other Canadian hospitals. You can watch the whole conference here. Dr. Abbass’ speech begins at 25:53.

2) St. Michael’s researchers awarded $3 million to support COVID-19 research projects

Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are investing $12.4 million to support 22 studies on COVID-19 immunity across Canada. Two of these studies are led by MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions researchers. Dr. Stephen Hwang received funding for his study on COVID-19 and people experiencing homelessness in Toronto. Dr. Jonathon Maguire received funding for his study on a safe turn to school for children and families during the pandemic. Read more about their impactful work here.

3) St. Michael’s was listed as one of the 10 best hospitals in Canada

University Magazine annually ranks the best hospitals in Canada based on recommendations and information provided by Newsweek Magazine in collaboration with Statista Inc., a global data research company. St. Michael’s was listed as #10. Congratulations to our amazing staff, physicians and learners! Read more.

4) We spotlight one patient’s rehabilitation at Providence after spinal cord surgery

Bill Hyman recently underwent his second spinal cord surgery at St. Michael’s and then transitioned to Providence to rehabilitate. It was a seamless transition between surgical and rehabilitation teams, in part because St. Michael’s and Providence are now part of one network. Mr. Hyman is now an outpatient of the Stroke and Neuro Clinic at Providence and is expected to be walking again in a few months. Read about his journey here.

5) General Internal Medicine expands to its new location inside the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower

The General Internal Medicine (GIM) unit at St. Michael’s expanded into the 14th floor of the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower (PGT) this week, making it the third unit to move into the new space. This move is significant for two big reasons: it will offer GIM staff and patients the tower’s brand new health-care design and technology, and will consolidate GIM and the Acute Care for the Elderly Unit into one joint unit across 14 PGT and the adjacent wing, 14 Cardinal Carter. For more information on how this expansion will improve care for GIM patients and staff, read our article.

6) Whose eligible for antibody testing and what does a positive test mean? Our experts weigh in

The Ontario government has outlined a specific and limited list of who is eligible to receive COVID-19 antibody testing. Dr. Prabhat Jha, Director of Global Health Research at St. Michael’s and lead of national study on COVID-19 antibodies, reminds people that a positive antibody test result doesn’t mean immunity from the virus. Read his interview with The Toronto Star here.

7) As Brampton’s COVID-19 cases increase, St. Michael’s physician says we need to find targeted solutions rather than blame

As Ontario’s COVID-19 cases climb, the city of Brampton has emerged as a hotspot. With more than 73 per cent of the city’s population being visible minorities, Dr. Ripudaman Minhas, Developmental Physician at St. Michael’s, warns against blaming cultural living practices and migration patterns of certain cultural groups. He cautions that it can incite racism and discrimination, not solutions. “There’s a greater need to understand the circumstances and conditions in certain communities that are causing them to be at higher risk. The initial public health measures were targeted towards mainstream population and now we need more targeted interventions to support rather than stigmatize and marginalize.” Check out Dr. Minhas’ live interview with CTV News here.

8) Naloxone kits are used less as opioid-related deaths increase. Our experts weigh in

The number of naloxone kits handed out at pharmacies in the London region have decreased by a third since the pandemic began, and there’s been a 25 per cent surge in the number of opioid-related deaths across Ontario. Dr. Tara Gomes, Scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and one of the researchers behind the first study to track naloxone distribution across Ontario, says the decrease in Naloxone dispensing is likely due to various pandemic disruptions including the need to isolate and general rules around physical distancing and staying home. Read her interview with CBC here.

9) Six months into the pandemic, anxiety and stress are at the forefront. Our experts weigh in

Dr. Amy Cheng, Emergency Department Physician at St. Michaels, spoke to CBC News about the emotional toll of the pandemic and how stamina and endurance is required, particularly as we move into a potential second wave. Her interview with CBC News The National begins at 0:48.

10) To celebrate Grandparents Day, Rexall donated $100,000 to Providence Healthcare

The Providence Healthcare Foundation and Rexall are partnering for the fourth year in a row and celebrating Grandparents Day with a $100,000 donation to support elderly patients and residents. Rexall is also providing giveaways to Providence Healthcare staff and residents, and they will be offered discounts in nearby stores. Read more.