Amidst the Chaos, Much Has Been Accomplished

Sep 15, 2020
Dr. Gillian Hawker

As Chair of the department, you never cease to amaze me with your resilience, passion, drive and commitment.

As leaders, partners and mentors, you continue to leverage our academic excellence, collaborative spirit, intellectual curiosity and insatiable drive to accomplish so much. As I reflect back on the past six months, and what the future may hold, I am grateful to you for more than just hanging in there — for stepping up and for reaching out to others who are in need.

Over the past six months, here are just a few examples of our department's accomplishments. 

Models of Learning & Care to Promote Sustainable Person-Centred Care

To reduce the risk of infection and to preserve PPE, much of the ambulatory care provided in the province has gone virtual, either using video visits or phone calls. You’ve not only made this transition “seamlessly”, but you are also tirelessly innovating how to deliver care and teach on this virtual care platform. This has not been easy, but, you’ve done it and done it spectacularly! New models of care have been born (e.g. LTC+) and are transforming how we support patient care in the LTC environment.

This major shift has also led to the establishment of a virtual care network — a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians and researchers from across the Department of Medicine — to study virtual care delivery. This research will have a major impact on the way that virtual care will be delivered in the future. The Centre for Digital Health Evaluation (CDHE) is a Ministry of Health funded collaborative whose role is to evaluate provincial digital health investments to ensure these investments improve patient outcomes, experience, and are good value for the money. Housed at Women’s College Hospital’s Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) and led by department member, Sacha Bhatia, the CDHE engages clinicians and researchers across the university who have an interest in virtual care. Right now, the CDHE is working with the Ministry of Health to study the impact of virtual care on outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expertise and passion of our department with respect to digital health has also resulted in a cross border collaboration with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to study digital health. This partnership, led on our end by Kaveh Shojania and Sacha Bhatia, will enhance cross-collaboration opportunities for our faculty in both research and education with one of the leading research faculties in the United States. More details to come! To quote Bob Wachter, Chair of Medicine at UCSF, we are all…excited to get started.

Creating a Positive and Inclusive Academic Medicine Culture

Despite the pandemic workload, two manuscripts are nearing completion that summarize results from prior faculty surveys on the impact of organizational culture on physician wellbeing and burnout, and how this relationship is influenced by physician gender and under-represented minority (URM) status. This work is being led by DoM survey developers Reena Pattani and Karen Burns, with outstanding support from our department statistician, Ed LorensThese findings, which will be shared with you, underscore the need to accelerate our work towards creation of a positive and inclusive work culture. Happily, we are well on our way. Under the leadership of Vice-Chair, Culture and Inclusion, Lisa Richardson, a search committee has been struck and postings are imminent for faculty member leads — mentorship lead, equity lead, and wellness lead. Please refer to the Culture and Inclusion website after September 23rd for more information on required qualifications, position descriptions and how to apply. We are taking a ‘bottom up’ approach: everyone who wishes to participate in this work is welcome!

At our DoM Annual Day in June, I asked you to share with me your perspectives on policing, given the summons to stand with our brave members on the call to defund police. I am grateful to the many individuals who responded. Thank you. While it is unrealistic to think that we alone will be able to stem racism in society, we agree that we want to do something tangible to move this agenda along. From these discussions, we felt a good place to start would be to articulate our clear position. Crafted by PGY2 Internal Medicine residents, Mara Waters and Maxime Billick, along with Vice-Chair, Education, Arno Kumagai, our Statement Against Racism and Violence has been released. This will be followed with self-education and open, honest and respectful discussion. Stay tuned.

Finally, Lisa Richardson put in place a wellness committee, comprised of wellness leads across our hospital sites, to help get us all through the first months of the pandemic. An enormous thank you goes to Tarek Abdelhalim, Hanna Faghfoury, Andrea Gershon, Barry Goldlist, Nadia Griller, Jackie Hochman, Liesly Lee, James Maskalyk, Malika Sharma, Robert Simpson, Rebecca Stovel and Lianne Tile. I’ve heard about online games of Trivial Pursuit, book clubs, cooking classes, yoga and much more: incredible! Your efforts have brought smiles to our faces and reminded us all that we are not alone — we are a community — and we truly care about one another.

We have much to be grateful for and to celebrate. Keep up the good work, don’t let your PPE defenses down, and take care of each other.