2020 was an incredible year at UHN and our donor community stepped up at a time when our healthcare heroes needed it most. With unwavering resolve, TeamUHN persisted through the challenges brought by COVID-19 and worked tirelessly every day to provide the best patient care, educate the community and drive new research.
We’ve curated some our favourite photos of TeamUHN and our community from the past year. We hope these photos serve as a reminder of the resilience and courage displayed by our entire community during this difficult time.
Canadian first robotic surgery gives women new breast cancer treatment possibilities
Dr. Tulin Cil, surgical oncologist and head of Breast Surgical Oncology in the Sprott Department of Surgery at UHN, performing Canada’s first robotic nipple-sparing mastectomy.
This innovative procedure gives Canadian women with breast cancer, or those who are at a high risk of developing the disease, access to the potential of greater benefits of a robotic approach – including reduced complications rates and minimal scarring. This novel surgery was only offered in a few select centres around the world when a generous patient decided Canadian women shouldn’t have to leave the country to access the procedure.
Documenting the first wave of COVID-19
Dr. Dawn Lim, an emergency medicine physician at UHN, spent her days off and downtime documenting her colleagues as they battled COVID-19 during the first months the pandemic hit the city of Toronto. The result was an intimate series of photos that documents the efforts, anxieties and triumphs of TeamUHN.
“We often forget that healthcare providers need care and support like everyone else. I wanted to capture the essence of a hospital coming into its own strength so that our story is not forgotten,” says Dr. Lim.
Protecting our healthcare heroes
Michael Wrobel (L) and Fraser Pennie (R), part of the Emergency Preparedness Team at UHN with Ajay Pillai, Head of International Services at UHN, with a shipment of donated medical supplies. “It’s been overwhelming to see all of this support,” Pillai says.
TeamUHN rallies to educate in the fight against COVID-19
When the pandemic hit, The Michener Institute of Education at UHN worked tirelessly to launch an online learning platform to prepare healthcare providers being redeployed for patients in acute and critical care settings. Modules were quickly developed to train healthcare workers to treat patients in long-term care facilities, like the Rekai Centre.
Since the platform’s launch in April, it has expanded to provide various education models, streams and resources needed to prepare healthcare workers for work in unfamiliar environments. The platform is now being used by 192 hospitals across Ontario by more than 11,000 learners.
Carrying on the legacy of giving and care
Dr. George Oreopoulos, vascular surgeon at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in the Sprott Department of Surgery, carries on his father’s legacy with a $500,000 donation toward the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep frontline staff at UHN safe. The donation comes from Humane Medicine, a charity founded by his late father and renowned nephrologist Dr. Dimitrios Oreopoulos.
The community inspires all to help
This is 11-year-old Zoe. She wanted to find a way to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic. In honour of her grandmother Mimi, a 40-year veteran of the Emergency Department at Toronto General Hospital, Zoe decided to support our frontline workers by sewing and selling masks, scrub caps and accessories to her friends and family.
Working with tunnel vision, looking through a blurred lens
For UHN’s Dr. Brant Slomovic, an emergency medicine physician, words seemed like an inadequate way to describe what it was like to care for and treat patients with COVID-19. The uncertainty, isolation and fear being experienced by healthcare workers during eight-hour shifts with layers of PPE was documented in his photo essay, “The New Normal.”
Pride at UHN
“This [Emergency Department] is a family where people feel comfortable being out and comfortable being themselves and diversity is very much supported. So, we didn’t want to lose that with the PPE layers and with the stress of the pandemic.” Emergency medicine physician Dr. Claire Heslop was determined to continue that sense of community for LGTBQ2S staff and patients at UHN despite the pandemic.
Adapting care to meet patient’s needs
The future of health care is virtual, something the pandemic only accelerated. PHONE CONNECT was just one of the new models of care to come out of the pandemic. UHN’s emergency medicine physicians distributed cellphones to vulnerable patients under investigation of COVID-19 who don’t have access to a phone to track and slow the spread of COVID-19. In December 2020, UHN established its virtual emergency department providing people access to care without overwhelming hospital resources or exposing patients to unnecessary risk.
Community and celebrity support continues to inspire
From banging pots and pans on balconies to making thank you signs – people have found creative ways to show their support for our brave frontline workers. #FeelGoodFlowers installed floral arrangements outside Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital – and even celebrities Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello made sure our workers were fuelled by donating gift cards.
Keeping it personal
Knowing how important it is for patients to feel connected to their healthcare providers, the surgical team at UHN’s Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals made buttons with their smiling faces on them, so patients know who they are talking to behind their PPE.
Canada’s first-ever COVID-19 vaccination
Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker, was the first member of TeamUHN to be vaccinated on December 14, 2020. She joined the Rekai Centres, a long-term care home partnered with UHN, in 1988 when it first opened and has worked throughout the pandemic, providing care, support and compassion to residents.