Recognizing outstanding contributions toward A Healthier World

UHN Patient Partner Earl Miller, (R), is greeted by Dr. Kevin Smith
​UHN Patient Partner Earl Miller, (R), is greeted by Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, after being named winner of the President’s Award, Patient Partner (Individual) at the 2023 UHN Local Impact Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. (Photo: UHN)

On November 8, 2023, TeamUHN celebrated the Local Impact Awards and the 2023 UHN Global Impact Awards, as a part of the inaugural TeamUHN Week of Gratitude.

From a record 113 nominations, winners of the 2023 UHN Local Impact Awards were announced at a ceremony in Schatz Hall at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO of UHN, noted the number of nominations means “113 people and groups at UHN were so impressed by the work of their colleagues that they took the time to write thoughtful, compelling nomination applications, with many of our winners receiving multiple nominations.

Here are the winners of the 2023 UHN Local Impact Awards and the President’s Patient Partner Awards, along with a description of the importance of their work in the words of those who nominated them.

Dr. Kevin Smith and Sheila O'Brien with Dr. Phyllis Billia
After details of their citation was read out by Dr. Kevin Smith and Sheila O’Brien, each of the individual and team winners were called up on stage to receive their award and have a photo taken. Here, Dr. Phyllis Billia accepts her Local Impact Award, Commercialization & Discovery (Individual).​ (Photo: UHN)

Local Impact Award, Tomorrow’s Care (Individual) – Dr. Brian Ballios of UHN’s Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at Toronto Western Hospital has enhanced UHN’s capacity to provide care to an underserved population through the creation of a specialized, adult-focused clinic for patients with inherited retinal diseases – such as retinitis pigmentosa – the first and only one of its kind in Ontario.

Local Impact Award, Tomorrow’s Care (Team) – Medly-General Internal Medicine Implementation Team is a truly multidisciplinary group from across the organization that came together to create and successfully pilot a new model of care designed to harness the power of technology to help reduce readmission rates for patients with congestive heart failure post discharge.

Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Individual) – Silvi Groe, Clinical Director at UHN’s Schroeder Arthritis Institute at Toronto Western Hospital, has during the COVID-19 pandemic and its rise in staff burnout and high turnover sought out resources to promote and co-create joy within their clinical operational areas to enhance worker satisfaction, engagement and overall wellbeing.

Local Impact Award, TeamUHN (Team) – General Internal Medicine Physician Assistants & Nurse Practitioners at Toronto General Hospital received multiple nominations from their colleagues about the indispensable contributions they are making since joining the department in 2021. “They have been such a positive and integral group within our department of GIM,” one nominator wrote.

Local Impact Award, Technology & Innovation (Individual) – Shehla Sheikh of UHN Digital has been instrumental in advancing UHN’s digital transformation, including the 2022 launch of Epic, the organization’s new health information system, which has improved the quality and safety of patient care as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of hospital operations. She has also helped foster a culture of collaboration across teams to explore and build new best practices.

Local Impact Award, Technology & Innovation (Team) – Materials Management is a system-wide group who a nominator says “supply the lifeblood of product that is needed for patient care across UHN.” In addition to being responsible for our very busy receiving docks and making sure every one of the hundreds of thousands of items coming to UHN gets where it needs to go, this group is also playing an integral part of the activation team bringing Project Agile live to UHN in the coming weeks.

Local Impact Award, Convergence (Individual) – Christine Bruce, Senior Director of the Laboratory Medicine Program at UHN, is being recognized for her vision and implementation of “We the North,” a creative solution to serve the medical laboratory needs of 27 rural and remote hospitals in Ontario that, due to staffing issues, were at risk of not meeting the standard of care or even facing closure without a lab or point-of-care service within reasonable proximity.

Local Impact Award, Convergence (Team) – Radiation Medicine Program MRI Accelerator Team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has advanced the delivery of precision-based, personalized, compassionate cancer care by spearheading since 2019 the operation of new magnetic-resonance-guided radiation therapy in the MR-Linac suite, helping improve health outcomes for patients with cancers that have been historically difficult to treat, including liver and pancreas.

Local Impact Award, Commercialization & Discovery (Individual) – Dr. Phyllis Billia, cardiologist at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and Senior Scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, has developed a diagnostic tool that measures a patient’s degree of clonal hematopoiesis, which is an inflammatory environment linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and also occurs in transplant recipients. It helps clinicians assess a patient’s risk for these disease and enable better surveillance of those patients at risk following a transplant.

President’s Award, Patient Partner (Individual) – Earl Miller is a UHN Patient Partner who has time and again offered his time, story, expertise and lived experience to help influence UHN research and promote health equity. He has also been an influential contributor to a health equity project focusing on the genetic predisposition of Black men being diagnosed with prostate cancer and raising awareness of the disproportionate risks faced by the Black community. He has also brought a wealth of knowledge to UHN’s research strategy to use culturally informed practices in reaching out to patients, particularly those in the Black community who may have had less than positive experiences in health care.

President’s Award, Patient Partner (Team) – Centre for Advancing Collaborative Healthcare and Education (CACHE) Patient/Family Advisory Team was established in 2019 to provide direction to the University of Toronto Interprofessional Education Curriculum, which is administered through the U of T’s CACHE at UHN. The curriculum spans 4200 health and social care students across 11 programs, and one of the group’s key undertakings has been to shift student understanding and demonstrate how crucial it is for inclusion of patients and their families and caregivers as full partners in the health care team. This group has also been instrumental in elevating issues of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, as well as the impact of social determinants of health.

Trio of scientists named winners of UHN Global Impact Award

Dr. Murray Urowitz
​Dr. Murray Urowitz said it was “truly an honour” to be named one of the 2023 UHN Global Impact Award winners in a ceremony in Schatz Hall at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN on Wednesday, Nov. 8. (Photo: UHN)

A trailblazer in the study and treatment of lupus, a leading radiation and tumour biology researcher, and a pioneering vascular surgeon are the recipients of the 2023 UHN Global Impact Award.

Dr. Murray Urowitz, who retired from UHN’s Schroeder Arthritis Institute at Toronto Western Hospital in 2022; the late Dr. Richard (Dick) Hill, whose long history at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre began in the 1960s; and the late Dr. Wayne Johnston, a longtime surgeon at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, were recognized on Wednesday, Nov. 8 in a ceremony at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

(L to R), Judy Urowitz, Dr. Murray Urowitz, Vanessa Harwood, Dr. Kevin Smith, Dr. Hugh Scully, Lyndel Hill, Peter Hill, Dr. Tom Forbes and Dr. Brad Wouters.
Following the 2023 UHN Global Impact Award ceremony, (L to R), Judy Urowitz, Dr. Murray Urowitz, Vanessa Harwood, Dr. Kevin Smith, Dr. Hugh Scully, Lyndel Hill, Peter Hill, Dr. Tom Forbes and Dr. Brad Wouters. (Photo: UHN)

Dr. Urowitz founded Canada’s first Lupus Clinic in 1970 at the former Wellesley Hospital, relocating it to Toronto Western Hospital in the mid-1990s, where it still operates. He also led development of the first and largest lupus database in North America.

Dr. Hill’s long and productive career at the Princess Margaret had an enormous impact on the field of cancer biology and the academic life of the institute. He made multiple paradigm changing discoveries related to the biology of malignant and normal cells, and their response to radiation treatment.

Dr. Johnston was one of Canada’s preeminent and gifted academic surgeons, a visionary leader, educator and researcher who was a tireless advocate for his chosen field of vascular surgery. One of his key discoveries was the use of balloons to treat patients with narrowed leg arteries, a procedure that cured disabling pain, prevented countless amputations and remains the global standard of care. Dr. Johnston passed away in June of this year. His family asked Dr. Tom Forbes, UHN’s Surgeon-in-Chief, to accept the award on their behalf.

Previous recipients of the UHN Global Impact Award are:

  • 2004 Fredrick Banting, Vera Peters, Harold Johns
  • 2005 William Bigelow, Ernest McCulloch, Jim Till
  • 2006 William Gallie
  • 2007 Joel Cooper, Griff Pearson
  • 2008 Charles Hollenberg, Bernard Langer
  • 2009 Mary Agnes Snively
  • 2010 Robert Jackson
  • 2011 Charles Tator
  • 2012 Dimitri Oreopoulos
  • 2013 Victor Ling
  • 2014 Alan Hudson
  • 2015 Jenny Heathcote
  • 2016 Karel terBrugge
  • 2017 Jack Cunningham, Gordon Whitmore
  • 2018 Louis Siminovitch
  • 2019 Diana Schatz, E. Douglas Wigle
  • 2020 Gary Levy, Ian Tannock
  • 2021 Mary Gospodarowicz
  • 2022 Hans Messner, Hugh Scully

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