Ten great things that happened this week

Temporary Cath Lab Recovery patient room in 7 PGT. (Photo courtesy of Joanne Le)

(September 24, 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) Cath Lab Recovery team leverages PGT technology for seamless transition of patients to new space

The Catheterization (Cath) Labs’ Corresponding Recovery Room moved temporarily into the 7th floor of the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower (PGT), which is where the Cardiac ICU (CICU) operates. Ten patient beds were moved without disrupting patient care because the teams leveraged the space, technology and clinical equipment of the new PGT unit. The Cath Lab Recovery team also have their own temporary central monitoring systems, reception and team lead station so that they can operate efficiently and separately along with the CICU. “Through this whole process and every day, the Cath Lab Recovery team is incredibly great, flexible and patient-oriented!” said Kim Boswell, Clinical Leader Manager, Heart & Vascular Program. The success of this temporary move was credited to the hard work of the Cath Lab Recovery, Operational Readiness, Clinical Engineering, IT, CICU and Planning and Redevelopment teams.

2) Two St. Michael’s Family Health Team clinics get a brand new, patient-centered space

The St. James Town Health Centre and the Health Centre at 410 family health team (FHT) clinics, currently located in separate spaces at 410 Sherbourne St., are moving to a new and integrated clinic. The Wellesley – St. James Town Health Centre, a new 24,000-square-foot space, was designed to provide more staff and patient-centered clinical care for the two clinics’ 14,000 patients. Read more about it here.

3) St. Michael’s physician who worked in Sierra Leone during Ebola built a model that accurately predicted local COVID-19 transmission

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Infectious disease physician Dr. Sharmistha Mishra felt echoes of her work on Ebola in Sierra Leone. Due to her experience with mathematical modelling and infectious diseases, she was asked to lead a model to predict how the pandemic will unfold at Unity Health’s two acute care sites: St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s. Her work, which was published this week, has been described as ‘eerily accurate’. Read more here.

4) COVID-19 testing site for Indigenous people is opening soon in Toronto

A new COVID-19 testing site for Indigenous people in Toronto is slated to open mid-October. Dr. Janet Smylie, Director of Well Living House with St. Michael’s Hospital, hopes that the testing facility will help eliminate barriers in Indigenous access to COVID-19 testing and health care. “We saw in the first wave how there were gaps in the ability of non-Indigenous services to meet the needs of the Indigenous community. That’s why we need our own agencies to do it,” said Dr. Smylie. Read more

5) An uptick in COVID-19 cases means we are in our second wave. Our experts weigh in

COVID-19 cases have been rising steadily since we entered Stage 3 on July 31. Over the last few weeks, the numbers have jumped. Dr. Irfan Dhalla, Vice-President of Physician Quality at Unity Health, told the Toronto Star the issue is that we did not have contact tracing measures figured out prior to Stage 3, and now 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases have an unknown source of transmission.  Read more

6) Is it fair to blame young people for the spread of COVID-19? Dr. Farah Mawani weighs in

Since the beginning of the pandemic, and particularly now as people under the age of 40 represent the majority of positive cases, young people are being shamed for spreading through partying and other irresponsible behaviours. Dr. Farah Mawani, epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow with St. Michael’s MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, says we need to see more data about the social inequities facing young people before we can make that judgment. Read more about this here.

7) How can we slow the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario? Our experts weigh in

The average number of COVID-19 cases this week has doubled from where it was just nine days ago. As the numbers rise, experts are calling for certain measures to take place. Dr. Irfan Dhalla says the government needs to employ a suite of measures including closing indoor dining, bars and gyms. Read more

8) 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 to discuss diagnoses 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 consultation and treatment processes for Unity Health patients living with cancer. Read more

9) Will saliva testing for COVID-19 improve the testing process? Our experts weigh in

The feasibility of saliva testing and collection for COVID-19 is very much in its early stages of research, with multiple barriers identified. Dr. Larissa Matukas, Head of the Microbiology Decision at St. Michael’s, spoke to the CBC about how the current focus should shift towards understanding where community transmission is happening and moving resources such as testing to those areas. Read more here.

10) COVID-19 cases are spiking but related deaths are not. What does this mean?

As COVID-19 cases rise again in Canada, statistics indicate that related deaths are not. Dr. Amol Verma of St. Michael’s is one of the leaders of a COVID-19 research project that’s gathering data from Ontario hospitals to determine how to best care for COVID-19 patients. He attributes this to a combination of early detection and high-quality hospital care, but warns in this interview with The Globe and Mail that the availability of these supports hinges on hospital capacity. Read more here