President & CEO
“Heal the person; heal the family; heal the community; heal the nation.”
– Elder Little Brown Bear, The Aboriginal Healing Program
Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had the honour to spend time with Elder Little Brown Bear, newly appointed to the Order of Ontario. He leads the Aboriginal Healing Program on College and Yonge Street – just one of the programs within our Toronto East Health Network.
The Elder graciously and generously explained some of the ways his teaching and wisdom are impacting many of the community members who come to the program to begin their healing journeys.
That’s how I met Amanda.
She told me that when she got to the program she was broken and lost. Ravaged by the effects of an addiction to substances, she ended up almost losing it all, including her children. But like many people who come to the program, her story is one of hope and redemption.
Through the healing process that provides traditional teachings with the blending of Western information, she reconnected to her culture and Indigenous roots.
She reclaimed her inner spirit. Where she once felt a sense of emptiness; she now feels the fullness of life. Through tears, she walked me through her healing journey and her emotional experience of being reunited with her children.
Of course she didn’t do it alone. She says she was guided by her Creator and the gentle hand of Elder Little Brown Bear. And it’s community leaders like him who are making a difference, healing one person at a time and who embody our vision: Create Health. Build Communities.
To Create Health, Elder Little Brown Bear says we need to start by healing the person; then the family; then the community; and then nation. His philosophy is but a simple one: “People don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
As Canadians it’s our duty to understand, support and encourage healing in the traditional way. As the Elder has often stated, “Being Indigenous is a way of life not a life style.” For what we do, we’re helping to close the gap in social, health and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
And so in the spirit of healing and Elder Little Brown Bear, Chi Miigwetch. (Thank you)
By Sarah Downey President & CEO
Today we celebrated a very special birthday – 88 years as east Toronto’s community hospital – and a new defining moment in our history as we announced our new vision, logo, colours and brand.
It’s been just over a year since we received the incredible $50M gift from the Garron family and changed our name to the Toronto East Health Network, with our hospital campus being called the Michael Garron Hospital.
This gift and the completion of our last strategic plan provided an opportunity to update our brand and to engage with our stakeholders to take pulse of how best to describe ourselves. During the process we spoke to and engaged hundreds of people both inside and outside the hospital walls, including many of you.
What we heard was remarkably consistent.
We heard that “community” is the number one word identified with us and that we need to help improve the lives of those in our community, not just treat their illnesses, by working with our partners to improve their economic and social conditions.
Today, Michael Garron Hospital will continue its role as an anchor in east Toronto – a source of pride and inspiration for those who call our community, home.
We will be guided by a renewed vision as we move forward:
Create Health. Build Community.
It’s simple, yet powerful. It’s our “why” and what motivates us.
Creating health symbolizes our commitment to helping people live to their full potential – mentally, spiritually, physically and socially.
Through creating health we will foster a strong community. Both are inextricably linked, which in fact defines our new corporate mission:
“Our community inspires us to deliver exemplary care, develop innovative partnerships and mentor the next generation of health care providers. Together we will make a difference and change the face of health in East Toronto and beyond.”
Our new logo and colours are the visual representation of these ideas, which show our hospital reflected onto the community and the community reflected on us – representing the idea of working together to create something new.
The logo’s principle colour – “Greenery” is fresh and bold, symbolic of renewal, growth and rebirth.
Our logo will develop more meaning for all of us as we begin to live our new vision, mission and values – Compassion, Integrity, Courage, and Accountability.
Together they will enable us to lay the foundation for good health for the next generation.
Speaking of the next generation, click here to see what they have to say about Michael Garron Hospital and its new logo!
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By Sarah Downey, President & CEO, MGH/TEHN
Many of us have driven or walked right by and not even given a second thought about what goes on inside. In fact, from the street, 985 Danforth Avenue looks totally unremarkable.
But behind the frosted glass windows lies a place where most of us have never been. It’s a place where many a healing journey has begun. 985 Danforth Avenue is home to one of the Toronto East Health Network’s (TEHN) community sites, the Withdrawal Management Centre (WMC).
Doug Smith, Manager, WMC has seen many folks come and go – many people like you and me. Because, you see, substance abuse does not discriminate. Substance abuse affects us all. It’s not, as many people believe, something that only affects those who are poor or homeless.
And the Network’s Withdrawal Management Centre sees both men and women, aged 16 years or older from all across the city and GTA. The folks who come here are usually in a state of intoxication, withdrawing from a substance or in a crisis regarding their substance abuse.
During the recent Accreditation process, one of the surveyors came back and told me they were so impressed by the Centre. They were astounded by the work that staff like Doug and Wil Lea, one of the long-time facilitators, do to help some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
And a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to file this Dispatches from the Frontlines Video. Thank you to Doug, Wil and most importantly the clients of the Day Withdrawal program who allowed me to witness their vulnerabilities and sit in on one of the sessions.
Please take a few moments to watch and learn about some of the services in the Toronto East Health Network.
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By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
A few weeks ago, I watched and listened to the staff on our Family Birthing Unit during a huddle. Like so many teams in our hospital, I was inspired not only by the knowledge and expertise shared between members, but also by the camaraderie and collaboration.
Each of us shines in our own way, bringing our individual skills to our teams. When we come together, it’s as if we set the night ablaze with a starry sky. It’s awesome to be a part of. And it’s teamwork and the ongoing commitment to make things better for our patients that makes us great.
Teamwork got us here.
I want you to look to your left and right, it’s the folks on those teams who’ve helped you get through the last few weeks as we all countdown to Accreditation. Next week when we welcome Accreditation Canada, we’ll all stand together as one.
During the four days, it may seem like you’re taking a final exam you’ve been tirelessly cramming for, but I want you to remember a few things:
First, you’ll be nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Trust me, I’m nervous too. The key will be to channel and focus that energy on the ultimate reason why we’re doing this: to ensure we’re providing the highest quality of patient care and service.
Second, the accreditors will be observing and asking you about the practices you do daily. I’m fully confident in all of you. In fact, I see and hear about the excellent care you provide each and every day.
And third, believe in not only yourself and your abilities, but also of those on your team. When the going gets tough, you know they have your back. So next week, I want you all to be proud.
This is our time to shine.
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By Sarah Downey, President & CEO, Michael Garron Hospital
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
In light of last week’s national celebration of volunteers, I find this quote by Maya Angelou to be apropos. From the front information desk, to admitting, to the emergency department to the hospital board, volunteers play an integral role in how Michael Garron Hospital provides its services.
As we salute the 500+ volunteers who generously give their time at MGH, I’ve been reminded daily about how each and every one of them impacts the intricate ebb and flow of the currents that make up hospital life.
Over the last week, I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to witness how volunteers like, John Harper and Barbara Brown, brighten the lives of those who meet them. Volunteers may not provide direct patient care, but I’ve noticed it’s the little things – the details – that enhance a patient’s experience. And it’s within these details where we often find the volunteer.
You’ll see this in my latest Dispatches from the Frontlines. Have a watch!
From all of us at Michael Garron Hospital and the Toronto East Health Network community, thank you to all the volunteers. We are great because of your compassion, dedication and generosity.
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By Sarah Downey, President & CEO, Michael Garron Hospital of the Toronto East Health Network (formerly Toronto East General Hospital)
We were down a set, but not out.
Nancy and I were a doubles tennis team. And this was the biggest tennis tournament in our young lives. You see, we were representing Team New Brunswick at the 1985 Canada Summer Games.
I remember thinking to myself, “If we want to win, we’re going to have to dig deep, play off each other’s strengths and try not to let our opponents see our weaknesses, really work together to cover the court.”
In the end, we didn’t win. But I do remember the lessons in teamwork that I learned from the courts in my hometown of Fredericton. I always preferred doubles tennis over singles because I felt I always had more at stake. I didn’t want to let my teammate down. This belief forced me to be responsible for my actions on the court. We had to work as a team or we stood a chance of forever being eliminated in the first round.
All of us have teamwork experiences from across our personal and professional lives.
A while ago I wrote that it takes a village to create and nurture a strong, supportive culture. It’s not accidental that our patient satisfaction and staff engagement scores are high. Collectively, we’re committed to working together toward the same goal: to provide the best care and ensure a very positive experience for our patients and their families.
This spirit defines us.
During the recent Interprofessional Practice week I was fortunate enough to see this collaborative spirit in action.
Moving forward we’ll need to rely on this spirit of teamwork and resiliency. We’ve got some challenging financial times ahead. But we’ve seen this before. And we’ll emerge stronger when we work through this together. Rest assured, we’re not the only ones experiencing this.
I know it’s in all of us to dig deep, really work together and rally hard.
Our future depends on it.
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By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
Happy New Year!
I am incredibly proud to work at our hospital where we have zero tolerance for all forms of workplace violence. We know that when our staff, physicians and volunteers are safe, they are able to provide the highest quality care and service to our patients. We encourage everyone to speak up. And we foster a supportive culture for those exposed to violence.
We believe that violence is not – and never should be – part of any person’s job.
As many of you know, we have been recognized as the provincial and national leader in workplace violence prevention. In fact, our Workplace Violence Prevention program garnered national attention in this recent media story that aired on Global Television’s 16X9.
In order to make the entire health system stronger, partnership and collaboration is vital. Our hospital is part of the Joint Centres for Transformative Healthcare and Innovation. The Joint Centres is a partnership between six large community hospitals including Mackenzie Health, Markham Stouffville Hospital, North York General Hospital, Southlake Regional Health Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and us.
Together, we are leveraging the collective talent within our organizations to drive quality and improvement in our health system.
Each year, the Joint Centres comes together at InnovationEX to showcase and share innovations that have been developed at our respective organizations. This year, InnovationEx will be held at Markham Stouffville Hospital on April 7th. Save the date!
Some of the innovations that we have shared with each other include reducing C-difficile infections, reducing C-Section rates and reducing unnecessary tests through Choosing Wisely. Today, I’m proud to announce that we are co-leading the force for change in making workplaces safer across the GTA. And in partnership with Southlake Regional Health Centre, we are spreading our best practices and expert knowledge in the area of workplace violence prevention. Irene Andress, Chief Nurse Executive is co-chair of the working group.
Making our workplaces safe for all requires teamwork, collaboration and a united front. Together the Joint Centres will be moving ahead in the coming months to address the increased need for secure, safe and healthy work environments where nurses and other health professionals can thrive and deliver high-quality care.
Our patients are counting on it.
By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
Last year, around this time, I had just been named as the incoming President & CEO of our hospital.
I remember feeling nervous, excited and thrilled all at once. These feelings somehow reminded me of the times when my younger brother, Geoffrey, would drag me on a roller coaster at a theme park. He liked the thrill rides; I was a bit more cautious.
Well, when I started this Toronto East adventure, little did I know the kind of ride I’d stepped on to…2015 has been an exciting one so far!
This past year we’ve seen leadership changes, took major steps toward the start of our redevelopment project, received several awards for our work, prepared for the PanAm Games and most recently, received a $50M gift from the Garron Family – the largest donation to a community hospital in Canada. And we’ve done all of this as well as provide the best care every day.
2016 also promises much change and renewal; twists and turns.
First, in recognition of the incredibly generous donation of $50 million announced this month, we’ll be changing our name to the Michael Garron Hospital, part of the Toronto East Health Network.
And we can’t ignore the possibility of some challenges as well, such as the pending flu season, continued funding constraints and possible changes to the system of healthcare delivery in Ontario.
But I know at this hospital, when we’re faced with adversity, we collectively pull together and roll up our sleeves. That’s the way it’s always been at our hospital. And that won’t change.
We need your talent, guidance and continued support as we embark on an exciting new journey – a new ride – to develop a network that we believe has the potential to make East Toronto the healthiest community in Canada.
On behalf of my Senior Team colleagues, Carmine Stumpo, Wolf Klassen, Ian Fraser, Irene Andress, Ralph Fernando, Robert Orr and Mitze Mourinho, thank you for all you have done to make this hospital great. We know you’ll continue to help us set new standards of excellence under our new name, both inside and outside the hospital walls. As with every holiday season, the Senior Team traditionally releases a greeting video. Enjoy…and have a “Rockin’ Holiday Season and New Year!”
Looking forward to sharing 2016 with all of you. A new adventure awaits. I’m ready for the ride, are you?
By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
In the history of this hospital, today’s announcement of a $50M gift from the Garron family is a game changer.
As the single largest donation to a community hospital in Canada, this investment will transform health care in East Toronto, impacting the health of our community for generations to come.
This unprecedented donation is an investment to the community from Myron and Berna Garron in memory of their late son, Michael. Tragically, he died at the tender age of 13 from cancer. And to recognize their incredible generosity, we’re becoming the Michael Garron Hospital in the newly formed Toronto East Health Network.
The idea of a “network” speaks to the way we’re already doing things.
We have a strong history of providing exemplary care inside and outside our hospital walls, working with our community partners to care for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Toronto.
We’re more than just a hospital.
And today’s gift doesn’t change who we are.
In fact, it makes us stronger.
It secures our future and allows us to dream bigger as we strive to of make our community the healthiest place to grow up and live in Canada.
It’s a long-term investment enabling us to fund new state-of-the-art equipment and drive clinical innovation.
And this gift will do more than just put our hospital on the map: it will also attract the best and the brightest minds in health care – and the donors who can make a difference.
When our founding fathers and mothers first opened Toronto East General Hospital in 1929, they hoped that the fledgling hospital would fulfill the health care needs of the growing East York community.
Back then, there was a tremendous need for local health care.
Well, 86 years later, that need is even stronger.
Today’s announcement is the start of our conversation with you and our community. Transforming the way we deliver care is an all-hands-on-deck approach. We’ll need your guidance and feedback.
But today, let’s put those plans on hold for a moment, pause and celebrate this defining moment in our history.
By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
I’m sure you’re all aware of the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And as a mom, I know I continually rely on my husband and many others to help raise my two kids. Because of my circle of family, friends, teachers and even sports coaches, my kids are thriving. The same can be said about creating, cultivating and nurturing a strong culture at Toronto East General Hospital. We all have a role to play.
When I arrived at TEGH as the new President & CEO last spring, someone said to me, “Oh, you’ll love it at TEGH, you’ll really fit into the culture at this hospital.”
But what did they mean? What is the culture here at TEGH?
In the short time that I’ve been here, I would define our TEGH culture as a shared goal to provide the best care and service to people when they are in need. This is the foundation of why we do what we do. I’ve also noticed a can-do attitude that’s typical from the frontlines to senior management. TEGH-ers are characterized by their willingness to accept and meet challenges. We have no issues rising to the occasion especially when the going gets tough. We are small, but mighty. And these common characteristics unite us all.
It takes a village.
No one person defines our hospital – collectively we’re a force for change and innovation from the bedside to the boardroom. We’re also a humble and modest bunch. We need to take more time celebrating our successes, wins and innovative practices.
With that, I’d like to officially launch our Dispatches from the Frontlines video series. It will be a chance for our staff to tell their stories and for our senior leaders to get to know the people who provide top quality care and contribute to creating the culture here at TEGH.
Before you click on the link, I want to thank Lucy Ann Harriman. She’s one of our hard working porters. Through her eyes, I experienced life on the frontlines. Through her story, I saw the incredible service she provides every day to people when they are most in need.
Most importantly, I witnessed compassion at its best; I witnessed care at its best. It takes a village to create a strong culture and a high functioning workplace. We all play an important role in telling and shaping the next phase of the TEGH story.