Update to phone lines at our Birchmount and General Hospitals: If calling through Birchmount main line (416-495-2400), add “7” when dialing an extension. If calling through General main line (416-438-2911), add “8” when dialing an extension.

SHN 365 – Year In Review 2021

Leadership messages

Message from Elizabeth and Matt

Welcome to SHN 365: Annual Report 2021, a reflection of Scarborough Health Network’s (SHN) experiences this year. While the past 18 months have tested our people and our Network, signs of hope have also inspired, challenged, and most notably, made us proud of what we can achieve, together with our partners. Today, we stand more united and committed than ever to our mission of improving lives through exceptional care.

We are incredibly humbled by the resilience that our doctors, nurses, medical and clinical staff, employees, and volunteers have shown during the pandemic. Thanks to their selfless work, we have successfully manage the spread of COVID-19 at our hospitals, while keeping our community safe through testing, education, and administration of over half a million (!) vaccine doses.

We are equally grateful for the ongoing support from our community. Every message, sign, donation, and letter positively impacts us at every level. Thank you for your encouragement!

Amid all of the disruption since 2020, SHN is forging ahead with exciting initiatives to meet Scarborough’s changing health care needs. With the support and guidance of our Board of Directors, we are building connections to care, reinforcing health equity, launching innovative new technology, and so much more.

We hope that our successes may serve as a beacon of hope and light to other communities facing similar challenges, signifying what we can overcome and achieve when we work together. We are proud to belong to the community of Scarborough and look forward to sharing our future  achievements with you.

Elizabeth Buller
President and CEO
Scarborough Health Network

Matt Ainley
Chair, Board of Directors
Scarborough Health Network

COVID-19 Story

Our COVID-19 story

In early 2020, a public health emergency rippled around the world. Before we knew it, the COVID-19 pandemic swept us up like a tornado, with the Scarborough community becoming one of the hardest hit — 16 of 17 postal codes were designated COVID-19 hot spots. Personal protective equipment (PPE) became precious armor. Services were reduced. Families were unable to visit loved ones inside our walls. Practice changes made delivering safe care more stressful. But at SHN, we rose to the challenge and continue to address it head-on.

Caring for our patients

The heavy impact of the pandemic in Scarborough has led to SHN seeing some of the highest volumes of COVID-19 patient cases of any hospital in the province. Thanks to relentless focus on quality and safety, our robust in-depth pandemic planning, and our innovation and ability to pivot and respond throughout four waves of the pandemic, we have been able to successfully manage the spread of COVID-19 at our hospitals and deliver exceptional care for our patients and families. In fact, across Ontario, many of our SHN team members stand out and are looked to as experts for treating patients during COVID.

  • 3,091 COVID-19 positive patients treated at SHN * As of November 22, 2021
  • 23% of COVID positive patients stayed in ICU * As of November 22, 2021
  • 11 COVID-positive inpatients on November 22, 2021, reduced from 130+ in a single day in April 2021

How we responded

SHN tailored our Pandemic Plan to COVID-19, and it serves as a roadmap for how we respond and adapt to our rapidly changing environment. This ensures we have the right people, protocols, resources, and policies already in place, so that we can continue to deliver high-quality care for our patients and their families. The plan has guided us in responding to surges in COVID-19 cases, planning for pivoting our services, ethically prioritizing care, and more. As the pandemic evolves, we continue to adapt our evidence-based plan.

As SHN continued to experience growing volumes of COVID-19 patients across our health network, we opened dedicated COVID-19 inpatient units at each of our hospitals. These units allowed us to place patients in the most appropriate bed possible for their comfort and safety, and alleviate patient flow pressures.

As pandemic pressures across our hospitals increased, SHN shifted our practices to best support our patients. This included transitioning to a Team-Based Model of Care on our inpatient units, which allowed us to make better use of the skills, expertise, and qualification levels of the entire care team. This highly collaborative model of care enabled us to bolster our nursing and patient care capacity.

It is vital to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our hospitals. One of the protective protocols put in place was active screening for COVID-19 among patients and visitors. We screened everyone coming into our hospitals through designated entrances for symptoms of the virus. We also adjusted our Visiting Policy to limit visitors in line with Provincial and Regional guidelines. Understanding the important role that families and loved ones play in supporting patients, we have empowered our care teams to make decisions on a case-by-case basis with respect to what’s best for our patients’ care and outcomes.

Throughout the pandemic, it became even more crucial to reduce in-person visits and keep more patients at home when it is safe to do so, as recommended by public health officials. As a result, SHN has expanded our virtual care capabilities, with more and more of our programs providing video and phone appointments and consultations, which patients and their families can attend from their own homes.

Keeping our community safe

At SHN, we understand that we serve as an integral part of a healthy Scarborough community, and that we are not alone in providing and supporting care. We have seen it as our great privilege and responsibility to help those directly impacted by COVID-19 outside of our hospital walls, including our most vulnerable populations. By building and expanding on our health and community partnerships, we have been able to offer services and expertise in addressing COVID-10 more broadly, including through education, patient care management, testing and vaccinations.

  • 345K+ COVID-19 visits and tests at our Assessment Centres
  • 1.44% positivity rate in Scarborough, reduced from 27% in April 2021 * As of October 3, 2021
  • 578K+ vaccine doses administered
  • 82% of people 12+ in Scarborough are fully vaccinated * As of October 13, 2021

How we responded

In April 2020, we formed an incident management system in partnership with 20 of Scarborough’s LTC and retirement homes to share tailored guidance, education, resources and staffing to support COVID-19 testing, cleaning, infection prevention and control, and resident care. Carefirst Seniors and Community Services Association generously provided transportation to and from the homes for our staff. Additionally, SHN took on voluntary management agreements with Altamont Care Community, Extendicare Guildwood, Rockcliffe Care Community, and Craiglee Nursing Home,to help them restore and maintain safe care environments. Even now, SHN continues to work collaboratively with these important partners to support healthier spaces for everyone who lives and works among this community.

General Hospital was transitioned to a Cold/Flu/COVID-19 Clinic, while we partnered with the University of Toronto – Scarborough Campus (UTSC) and Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS) to temporarily move our Birchmount and Centenary centres to warmer indoor facilities for the winter months. In addition to our assessment centres, SHN’s mobile teams supported COVID-19 testing in our community.

COVID-19 vaccine across Scarborough. We began in December 2020, as soon as vaccines were available — providing them first to healthcare workers, long-term care patients and staff, and other vulnerable and at-risk community members. Then we began vaccinations for the wider community, opening six vaccine clinics — at Birchmount and Centenary hospitals, Centennial College, Carefirst Seniors and Community Services Association, The Hub by Scarborough Centre for Health Communities, and TAIBU Community Health Centre— and running hundreds of pop-up clinics and mobile visits. In a community where 16 of 17 postal codes were designated COVID-19 hot spots in April, this extraordinary level of vaccination has had a transformational impact. As of October, at least 80 per cent of people 12+ in Scarborough are fully vaccinated.

In April 2021, SHN launched a new VaxFacts Clinic geared towards hospital staff as part of a larger policy to help staff make informed decisions about receiving the vaccine. In June, the VaxFacts Clinic became available to the larger Scarborough community, and today the clinic takes appointments from across Ontario and even Canada! Through this clinic, community members can book an appointment for a one-to-one phone conversation with a qualified and compassionate SHN doctor, who provides information on the benefits versus risks of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, answers questions, and clarifies the facts. Since its launch, the VaxFacts Clinic has helped over 600 clients, of which 84.5% agreed on the spot to have a vaccine booking scheduled by clinic staff. 

Supporting our people

Throughout the pandemic, safety and quality care of patients has been paramount — and has depended on also ensuring the safety of our hospital staff, volunteers and physicians and their own well-being. We have made every effort to ensure a safe workplace environment, and foster a culture that puts our SHN health care workers and teams in a position to meet the challenges of COVID-19 and achieve their best work and patient care. This has included many new safety measures, protocols and policies and providing wellness supports and resources.

How we responded

Before the first COVID-19 outbreak, SHN identified and procured the appropriate PPE for caring for patients (i.e.: gown – Level 2, gloves, procedure mask, N95 respirator, eye protection – goggles or face shield), and aligned our PPE guidelines with the most current, evidence-based practices and directives from the Ministry of Health. This included universal masking inside the hospital, maintaining our aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMP) list, and putting in place an infection prevention protocol for point-of-care risk assessments that all health care workers must perform before every patient interaction to determine the appropriate PPE.

To ensure our health care teams and leaders are always up to date, we developed new communication tools, including: a COVID-19 Resources intranet site, a COVID-19 Daily Update internal e-newsletter, and several online dashboard reports, including the Operations Dashboard, PPE Supply Dashboard, Internal Staff COVID-19 Cases Dashboard, and Vaccine Dashboard. These tools provide a timely window into the activities taking place throughout our hospitals, and provided a larger breadth of information to support the work of our staff.

Staff wellness is critically important delivering the highest quality and safest patient care, which is why SHN increased mental wellness supports for employees and medical staff. Near the start of the pandemic, we introduced two bi-weekly, anonymous, self-monitoring surveys to help staff become more aware of feelings of anxiety and depression. We also expanded our on-unit wellness rounding with our wellness coordinator and staff from our Spiritual and Religious Care and Mental Health programs, and continued to promote our Employee and Family Assistance Program and other resources to support mental well-being and build resiliency during this crisis.

Continuing to shape the future

Continuing to shape the future

Even in the face of a pandemic that is taking a heavy, sometimes tragic toll on our community, SHN isn’t losing sight of our commitment to shaping the future of care in Scarborough. We continue to chart a new course for a healthier tomorrow through expanding services, achieving greater health equity, and building stronger alliances with community, government, and health partners.

Delivering bold and innovative care

Our teams continue to expand, enhance, and roll out new services to better support your needs, including:

SCOPE (Seamless Care Optimizing the Patient Experience) – a resource hotline that connects family doctors with specialized SHN hospital staff and other community resources

SHN@Home – a partnership with BayShore HealthCare helping to transition patients from hospital to home with ongoing restorative care

Adult Outpatient Mental Health centralized referral form – a streamlined intake process that enables easier access to services

Virtual Urgent Care Clinic – offering consultations and care through virtual appointments (phone, mobile, or computer) for patients who have an urgent medical condition that isn’t life- or limb-threatening

Long COVID Service – providing care for COVID-recovered individuals who continue to experience persistent COVID-related symptoms

Orthopedic Trauma Centre of Excellence – featuring a dedicated orthopedic daytime trauma surgical room and staff for emergent non-scheduled cases, and a dedicated Trauma Orthopedic unit at SHN’s General Hospital

By working closely with our community partners, we are playing a role in health education and promotion activities, as well as removing barriers to provide care that is more accessible to everyone. We are making it easier for people to access services and move from one provider to the next, throughout their journey.

Our focus in the last year has been on bringing vaccinations right into Scarborough neighbourhoods at community centres, schools, local malls, and places of worship. We are also proud to have begun the second cohort of our leading Health Equity Certificate Program, designed to empower individuals involved in delivering health and community services to promote wellness and develop strategies to reduce health disparities.

SHN is partnering with six other hospital organizations representing 14 hospitals in Ontario’s central east region to deliver a new, world-class clinical information system called Epic. We have been preparing to implement our new Epic CIS for more than two years, and are excited to go live with the new system on Friday, December 3. Once in place, the Epic CIS will deliver a better patient experience to 1.5 million people across the region — from SHN to Campbellford Memorial Hospital and up to Haliburton Highlands Health Services. Patients will even be able to view and share their personal health records using a free, online portal called Central East MyChart.

Creating new connections

SHN is proud to collaborate with local and regional health care partners as members of the Scarborough Ontario Health Team (SOHT). This network is made up of over 30 organizations with a history of collaboration and of providing health and community services across the continuum of care, to the people of Scarborough. The SOHT is working together with the Scarborough Family Physicians Network of primary care doctors and includes a Client and Family Advisory Committee to help co-design practical solutions to providing care.

In June, SHN joined the Toronto Academic Health Science Network, a dynamic network of academic health organizations providing leading edge research, teaching, and clinical care. SHN and TAHSN have a shared commitment to health education, to growing capacity in research, and to health system innovation. SHN is excited to be a new member of TAHSN, and to bring our focus on community health, health equity, and population health research in diverse communities to the Network’s academic and research collaborations, and its broad contributions to health care innovation.

SHN is fortunate to have amazing partners in Scarborough. Among those partners are Scarborough Anchor Institutions, which include the Toronto Zoo, Centennial College, University of Toronto Scarborough, and the Scarborough Business Association (and SHN). Throughout COVID-19, we have worked together to make Scarborough one of the most vaccinated communities in Canada. We were honoured to partner in creating the first-ever Scarborough Hero Award, presented to everyday people who have accomplished extraordinary things for their community.

Celebrating our achievements

SHN was recognized in 2021 with two Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL) National Awards. Our Central East Regional Cardiovascular Rehab program received the “Delivering Value-based Healthcare Award” and our Strategy and People team received the “Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award.”

In September, the Scarborough community celebrated the recipients of the inaugural Scarborough Hero Awards. Winners in the community action and service, education, environment, good neighbour, outstanding organization, and health categories were recognized by Mayor John Tory and Randell Adjei, Poet Laureate of Ontario, as well as leaders of the Scarborough Anchor Institutions, MPPs, and city councillors for Scarborough – with some of the winners being SHN’s very own Health Heroes.

The staff at SHN and the intensive care unit (ICU) at our General Hospital were recognized in the 2021 Urban Hero Awards – honouring unsung community heroes. Both SHN staff and the ICU unit were among eight winners in the “People’s Choice Award” category. From one dedicated unit to the whole SHN team, our health network is Stronger Together.

SHN foundation report
SHN 2020/2021 Annual Report: Celebrating the resiliency and support of our Scarborough community.