Know Your Heroes: Eddy Fan

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day.

Name: Eddy Fan

Role: Intensivist

Years working in health care: 19

Current city: Toronto

I decided to get into health care because it seemed like an ideal way to combine my interest in science, my desire to work with other invested individuals, and to help make a difference in other people’s lives.

My role here at UHN is staff physician in the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU) at Toronto General Hospital, the Medical Director of the Extracorporeal Lung Support (ECLS) Program at UHN, and a Scientist in the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute.

COVID-19 has affected me by travelling less – both for work and for leisure with my family. As a result, a silver lining to this has been the chance to spend more time at home with my family! But we miss seeing our extended family and friends. I worked through SARS – and this is a big difference – at the end of a long day at work during SARS, you could still go out and see your friends and family.

The thing I love the most about my job is getting to meet and interact with patients and their families, as well as working with the amazing team of professionals in the MSICU, at UHN, and at the University of Toronto. I am constantly amazed at the types of connections we make with patients and their families – how privileged we are as healthcare workers to learn and share in some of the most personal things as patients and their loved ones come to the hospital to receive care.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is that we treat some of the sickest patients in Canada. From the moment when this critically ill patient arrives in the ICU, it’s incredible how quickly the entire team “clicks” immediately into action. From the healthcare team setting up monitoring, performing life-saving interventions, to the pharmacist reviewing the patient’s medications, to the social and spiritual care workers helping to orient the family members to our ICU and to provide support, to the ward clerks helping to find space in the waiting room, and to housekeeping making sure the room is well maintained and de-cluttered as our resuscitation continues so everyone can do their job well. Taking care of very sick patients in the ICU is a team sport – and we have a great team from top to bottom at UHN.

I’m inspired by my family. My wife is an amazing person – she is an extremely accomplished physician-leader, a dedicated and loving mother to our children, and my best friend. She approaches every new task and challenge with inner calm, patience and grace – she really is one of my personal heroes. Watching my children grow up and develop their own sense of wonder and discovery of the world around them provides me with inspiration in my own work every day.

I sometimes worry about the future and the world we are leaving for our children. Some people have written that every generation faces this outlook, as things change at an ever-increasing pace. But now experiencing it as a parent makes me anxious every now and again. We are working hard on trying to be good custodians of our current society and planet, and providing our children the tools they will need to succeed as they move out into the world.

I’ve found joy recently from going on a hike while camping with my family in Killarney. I didn’t grow up camping, but my wife did, and now my children have really taken to it. Although we have gone camping every year for the last few summers, this was the first trip where I was able to make the hike with them – and it was really beautiful. I loved the sense of accomplishment my kids felt in make the journey to the “top”!

My favourite book (or movie) is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce because this book, which I read in high school, really opened my eyes to the world of literature and philosophy and rekindled a lifelong passion of reading the classics. James Joyce is a great author, and I still hope someday (post-COVID) to go to Dublin and celebrate Bloomsday!

My ideal day off is relaxing and not doing much – having a nice meal (and glass of wine) out with my family and friends, spending time with my kids doing whatever they want!

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