Facebook Pixel Code
About Sickkids
About SickKids

January 9, 2013

Top 12 of 12

The following 12 stories talk about some of the great events and achievements of 2012. The list is by no means exhaustive. See our newsroom for more stories about what we did for healthier children and a better world. 

A great place to work

employees standing in a group

SickKids won several top workplace awards in 2012. For the second year in a row SickKids was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and one of Greater Toronto’s Top 10 Employers. And the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recognized our efforts again in creating a supportive place for health-care professionals to work and thrive by naming SickKids a platinum-level award winner of the Quality Healthcare Workplace Award.

“SickKids’ strength has always been its people and the innovation, dedication and passion they bring to their work,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO. “We’ve worked hard to ensure that our staff have a supportive work environment where they can excel, and feel respected and appreciated.”

Last year, SickKids received over 45,000 job applications, reflecting its reputation as a great place to work, learn and grow.

Historic $40 million gift

the historic announcement

March 7, 2012, was a big day at SickKids with the announcement of a transformational gift of $40 million from philanthropist and business leader Peter Gilgan, Founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes. The gift, which is the single largest private donation ever made to a children’s hospital in Canada, will support the construction and ongoing operating costs of the SickKids Centre for Research and Learning. The gift is a giant step forward in our mission to advance children’s health, and further enables our capacity to make groundbreaking discoveries in the years to come



 Continuous improvement

team going over improvement diagrams

In early 2012, SickKids began piloting a strategy that will lead to process improvement becoming a daily occurrence across the entire hospital. The Daily Continuous Improvement Program (Daily CIP) is grounded in LEAN management principles and is guided by nearly 10 years of experience of ThedaCare, a hospital system in Wisconsin recognized globally for its gains in performance. Building on the learnings from SickKids’ SPEED initiative, in which frontline staff helped to significantly improve admission wait times from the ED, Daily CIP is the next step in SickKids’ process improvement journey, reinforcing the hospital’s commitment to providing the highest quality family-centred care and to building process improvement capacity.

Led by Shiraz Bajwa, Director, Innovation and Improvement, and his team, the Daily CIP strategy will help SickKids sustain improvements and provide a structured methodology for front-line staff to identify and solve problems on a daily basis. The outcomes from Daily CIP will improve the patient experience and help SickKids meet many of its strategic objectives – hitting performance targets, being innovative, leading in world-class quality and creating a culture of service excellence.

Innovative strategies cut wait times

children sitting in a row

Wait times for surgery improved at SickKids in 2012. Guided by its Quality Improvement Plan, the hospital implemented innovative strategies to ensure that the percentage of “out-of-window” surgical wait times is consistently declining. This commitment to lead in world-class quality and service excellence is paying off – there have been significant improvements in surgical wait times, with a greater than 40 per cent improvement at SickKids since 2009.

Wait times also fell in Emergency, where SickKids is now the Toronto Central LHIN leader in ED wait times, having achieved a remarkable 46 per cent improvement across the three pay-for-results fixed funding indicators as of November 2012. These improvements are over and above last year, when the ED achieved a 47.3 per cent improvement in these same indicators. Despite an 11 per cent increase in emergency patient volumes in 2011-12, the improvement margin at SickKids more than doubled that of the next best performing hospital in the LHIN and exceeded the required 10 per cent improvement margin more than four times over.


International leaders join the SickKids team

SickKids continued to attract world-renowned talent to its leadership team. In 2012, SickKids welcomed Dr. Ronald Cohn, Head, Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics, and Co-Director of the Centre for Genetic Medicine (Johns Hopkins, Baltimore); Dr. Jonathan Kronick, Chief of Education (Dalhousie University, Halifax); Dr. Peter Laussen, Chief, Department of Critical Care Medicine (Children’s Hospital, Boston); Dr. Steven Miller, Head, Division of Neurology (BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver); and Dr. Martin Offringa, Head, Child Health Evaluative Sciences Program (University of Amsterdam).


A better world

children around a globe

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin was appointed Chief of Global Child Health in September, 2012. The new portfolio reflects the continued evolution of SickKids’ knowledge, sophistication and successes in global child health and the importance of this area to our vision and mission. The new program has at its core four integrated components: research, education, knowledge translation and advocacy, and a national global health policy initiative. The new program is expected to include multiple partnerships within SickKids and with the University of Toronto and other universities, as well as with municipal, provincial and federal governments, NGOs, United Nations agencies and large funding agencies.


Topping off

topping off cermony

SickKids celebrated the topping off of the SickKids Centre for Research and Learning on May 3. A key milestone in the construction timeline, the topping off represented the moment construction reached the highest point of the concrete structural elements of the building. Staff gathered in the Atrium to watch a live feed of the topping off ceremony and to thank construction workers for their hard work and dedication to the project. The celebration also commemorated the two-year anniversary of the groundbreaking at Bay and Elm streets. The building will officially open in September 2013.




There’s an app for that

smartphone with pain app

Researchers at SickKids are always looking for new ways to improve pain management for cancer patients. Pain Squad is an award-winning iPhone app that helps kids and teens with cancer to track how intense their pain is, how long it lasts, where it hurts, as well as what helps to treat it. They are also able to record how pain affects their mood and daily activities, such as doing schoolwork, sleeping and interacting with others.

While there are many hurdles in pain treatment, inadequate assessment and a patient’s reluctance to report pain are among the biggest barriers. Completion rates for the cancer pain journals have jumped to 90 per cent since the Pain Squad’s launch earlier this year. Its success has also paved the way for the program’s introduction to four more Canadian paediatric hospitals, with an international release on the horizon.

The ultimate goal, says Dr. Jennifer Stinson, lead researcher of the project, is to make the Pain Squad app available to all Canadian adolescents with cancer, with the hope that improved pain monitoring will result in better pain management and improve the quality of life for these youths.

Centres – Enabling integration and innovation

in the operating room

The Centre for Genetic Medicine was launched in 2012, under the leadership of two international leaders in genetics: Dr. Ronald Cohn, who joined SickKids from the McKusick- Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Dr. Stephen Scherer, the GlaxoSmithKline-Canadian Institutes of Health Research Endowed Chair in Genome Sciences at SickKids and Director of the University of Toronto McLaughlin Centre.

Ninety per cent of chronic diseases have a genetic component, and known genetic diseases account for over half of hospital admissions. Genetic medicine can revolutionize care by using the information in a patient’s own DNA to diagnose and treat illness and disease. At its best, it may prevent or delay the onset of disease and reduce harmful side-effects that are a current reality of certain treatments. SickKids is collaborating with Life Technologies to be able to rapidly and accurately sequence genomes.

Another new centre – The Centre for Image Guided Care – is set to become the platform on which a world-leading, multidisciplinary, collaborative clinical and academic environment will be created for image-guided care in children. Under the co-leadership of Dr. Philip John, Head, Interventional Radiology, and Dr. James Drake, Head, Neurosurgery, the centre will promote leading-edge work in image-guided interventions across many services, disciplines and departments. It will enable the translation of innovative research from the Centre for Image Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention into clinical practice using the Imaging Guided Therapy Centre.


Drug promotes development of brain stem cells

Dr. Freda Miller

Researchers at SickKids discovered in 2012 that metformin, a drug commonly used to treat Type II diabetes, can help trigger the pathway used to instruct stem cells in the brain to become neural (nerve) cells. Brain stem cells and the neural cells they generate play a role in the repair of the injured or degenerating brain. This study suggests a novel therapeutic approach to treating people with brain injuries or potentially even neurodegenerative diseases.

“If you could take stem cells that normally reside in our brains and somehow use drugs to recruit them into becoming appropriate neural cell types, then you may be able to promote repair and recovery in at least some of the many brain disorders and injuries for which we currently have no treatment,” says study lead Dr. Freda Miller, Senior Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology.


Together We Will (be) Healthy & Happy

subway wall with together we will writing

Together We Will was the signature line for the SickKids brand campaign, launched in November 2012 by SickKids and SickKids Foundation. Running for a seven-week period through the holiday season, the campaign raises awareness and funds for the work that we do. Everyone featured in the campaign has a direct link to the hospital. Some are patients who come here for our expertise and family-centred care. Others are staff members whose dedication and commitment has continued to allow SickKids to be one of the best children’s hospitals in the world.

In May, SickKids also engaged the public and our partners in celebrating the role that we play in the community and in building awareness of pressing children’s health issues and the need for community support to further research and patient care. The award-winning campaign, called Healthy & Happy, is built on one premise – every child deserves to be healthy and happy. SickKids asked the people of Toronto and beyond to participate, donate and share – Do The Happy – in support of SickKids. Results of the campaign included a 5.6 per cent increase in revenue for the month of May, an increase in online donors, the acquisition of new corporate partners, and the generation of 60 new third-party fundraising events and 600 new monthly donors.



Wikidea logo

A new innovation tool for SickKids staff was launched in November. Wikidea is an easy-to-use online idea management tool. Staff submit ideas in response to specific challenges to help make SickKids better. With Wikidea, they can even view other people’s ideas and build on them – a great way to collaborate with staff members across the organization!