From November 6 to 8, University Health Network (UHN) and UHN Foundation had a very special guest – our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh (HRH), who was on a 5-day visit to Canada. As a patron of 70 charities, Her Royal Highness is passionate about matters including women’s empowerment and vision health. Naturally, her visit to the #1 hospital in Canada was close to the heart, as The Duchess spent time interacting with frontline healthcare workers, researchers, clinicians and support staff – thanking them for their meaningful work in bringing to life the world-leading innovation and care at UHN. As she toured three of our hospital sites – Toronto General, Toronto Western and HRH’s first tour of Toronto Rehab’s University Avenue campus, she also stopped to talk to patients and families.
Here are the top highlights of the trip:
Her Royal Highness received a first-hand demonstration of the latest innovations taking place at UHN. The Duchess tried on a Virtual Reality (VR) Headset while learning about the role of VR in low-vision rehabilitation.
The Duchess spent time talking to patients and learning about the exceptional patient experience delivered at UHN. HRH was seen taking part in a range of activities, including a light-hearted game of catch with one of the patients.
At a dinner addressing donors, Her Royal Highness acknowledged the profound difference being led by UHN’s incredible team of clinicians and researchers. While reflecting on her last trip in 2019, The Duchess remarked that “the progression that has happened in the last four years is extraordinary”. At this event, the Duchess thanked our donors, who through their generosity “make all of this magic happen”.
Her Royal Highness visited the Michael Lawrence Turk Emergency Rapid Assessment Centre, which since its inception in 2022 has served more than 37,000 patients, thus transforming patient experience in the emergency room. The Duchess interacted with nurses, frontlines workers and support staff, and spoke on topics including care methodologies used by them.
Toronto Rehab is a global leader in physical rehabilitation providing world-class care, research and education. At this facility, The Duchess tried out the Reactive Balance Training Frame and Harness in the Movement Evaluation Laboratory. It is a system aimed at improving the control of movement and mobility, especially among those recovering from stroke and brain injury. Toronto Rehab’s research arm, KITE Research Institute, houses Canada’s most advanced driving simulator. HRH toured a series of simulators, while recognizing philanthropy as a crucial driver of cutting-edge medical technology.
The Duchess, along with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, met various UHN leaders including UHN President & CEO Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN Foundation CEO Julie Quenneville, Chair of the Foundation Board, Raj Kothari and Board member Todd Halpern.
As the three-day visit came to an end, Her Royal Highness remarked with gratitude, “It’s been fantastic to be back in Toronto, it’s such a friendly and positive city. Having been Patron of Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals since 2005, I’ve seen over many years how they are always moving health care forward while continuing to put communities first. On this visit it was fascinating to hear how they are using advancements in research and technology to enhance patient care and the exciting opportunities this offers for the future. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with UHN and all the amazing supporters who do so much for the hospital.“
We are grateful for Her Royal Highness’ support, and for being so engaged in the work that we do. It was an honour to host her!