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About Sickkids
About SickKids

December 24, 2014

Ten good reasons to celebrate 2014 at SickKids

It’s the end of the year, and what a great year it was for The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) as illustrated by our top-of-the-list events and achievements for 2014:

Mike Apkon arrives

Picture of Mike Apkon, SickKids President and CEO

In January, we welcomed our new President and CEO, Dr. Michael Apkon. Recruited from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to succeed Mary Jo Haddad, Apkon spent his first week on the job visiting staff throughout the hospital and learning more about the important work they do. Here he proudly displays his freshly minted staff ID badge. “I've had a chance to see what an innovative, creative, compassionate and committed team this is and I've been inspired by their sense of purpose, passion and pride as they each contribute in their own way to making SickKids a hospital of hope and healing,” Apkon commented after his rounds.

We are exemplary!

Image of Accreditation Canada logo

March brought great news from Accreditation Canada. SickKids was awarded Accreditation with Exemplary Standing, the highest standing possible from Accreditation Canada. In their report, the surveyors highlighted SickKids’ many strengths and praised programs, staff, services and culture. The surveyors evaluated SickKids on 2,415 different criteria, looking at everything from governance and leadership to infection control and clinical care. SickKids met 2,404 of these criteria (meeting 99.5 per cent of all criteria evaluated) and was fully compliant with all required organizational practices. SickKids was also recognized for 12 new leading practices. Accreditation Canada defines a leading practice as a noteworthy practice carried out by a health service organization that demonstrates innovation and creativity, and has a positive impact on services or outcomes for clients and families.

The future is Horizon

It’s been a big year for Project Horizon (Inside SickKids, August 2014), SickKids' integrated visioning, master programming and master planning initiative that will help to deliver the highest quality care and provide the best patient experience for the next 10-20 years and beyond. SickKids is at the crossroads of strategic, technology and facility planning, and throughout the year held meetings that engaged physicians, clinicians, managers, researchers and educators in planning the future of clinical service delivery at SickKids.  Externally, SickKids engaged with partners to gain their insights on the future and took to social media to host an online forum to hear from the broader community how to better support the experience for children in the health-care system. The feedback and discussions will be used in determining what the future system should look like and what value SickKids can bring to the future system.

For families: A home away from home

Ronald McD Room

The Ronald McDonald House Toronto Family Room at SickKids, which opened this summer, provides a warm and welcoming environment for families with seriously ill children, a place where they can recharge and relax without having to leave the hospital. The room is the largest of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. The experience of having a sick child has a profound impact on the whole family. By being just steps away from their sick child in this relaxing environment, parents and caregivers can be more present for their child and find support to carry on.

Historic $130 million gift 

SickKids, University Health Network and the University of Toronto announced in November the creation of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, funded by an unprecedented donation of $130 million from the Rogers family – the largest monetary gift ever made to a Canadian health care initiative. The donation will be matched with $139 million in additional funds combined from SickKids, UHN and U of T for a total investment of $269 million. This powerful, collaborative partnership will have a global impact, helping to accelerate discovery and cardiac care at an unprecedented pace. Each partner will take the lead in a particular area of focus: SickKids will harness the power of genomic science to decode the genetic foundations of cardiac disease, which will allow for heart disease to be better predicted before it occurs, and will support individualized therapies for children and adults, based on the unique genome of each patient.

Doors open to science (and our cool building!)

More than 1,500 people visited the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning over the two-day Doors Open festival in May. Participating for the first time in the annual event, SickKids threw the doors open to one of the most exciting buildings in the Toronto Discovery District. Guests began their visit by learning about some of the current research being done at the PGCRL. They spoke to scientists, trainees and child-health research staff, attended lectures and participated in hands-on exhibits. Throughout the day, visitors were given tours to one of the building’s six neighbourhoods.

A great place to work

Quality Healthcare Workplace logo 2014

SickKids continues to rank as a top workplace, an employer of choice. For the fourth year in a row, SickKids has received the highest level Quality Healthcare Workplace Award from the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care – HealthForceOntario. The judges look for organizational efforts to improve health-care workplaces in ways that contribute to providers’ quality of work life and the quality of the care and services they deliver. SickKids was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers for 2015 by Mediacorp Canada Inc. Those who are recognized as top employers are "forward thinking in creating the best types of work environments."

A lasting impact on the health and well-being of children everywhere 

The Centre for Global Child Health made great progress in SickKids’ efforts to support child health research and capacity building on a global scale with contributions to the United Nations (UN) Saving Every Woman Every Child strategy, through initiatives like the Every Newborn Action Plan and Countdown to 2015. In pursuit of the UN Millennium Development, the centre has been working closely with Canadian partners to improve the lives of women, children and newborns living in poor-resource environments, where the largest number of deaths of children under five occurs. Meanwhile, SickKids International marked the fourth anniversary of a successful collaboration with Qatar, one of several projects that contribute to better health care for children around the world.

Doctors destroy bone tumour using incisionless surgery

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Jack Campanile and Dr. James Drake​

In July, a patient at SickKids became the first child in North America to undergo a procedure that uses ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to destroy a tumour without piercing the skin. Doctors used an MRI to guide high-intensity ultrasound waves to destroy a benign bone tumour called osteoid osteoma. The lesion had caused 16-year-old Jack Campanile excruciating pain for a year prior to the procedure. By the time he went to bed that night, the athletic teen experienced complete pain relief. High-intensity focused ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to heat an area the size of a grain of rice, under MRI guidance, to destroy the tumour. The treatment is completely non-invasive, so the skin and surrounding bone remain intact, greatly reducing the risk of complications. The use of MRI rather than CT scan to guide the sound waves means the patient avoids exposure to radiation. The breakthrough is the latest from the SickKids Centre for Image-Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI), a research program that brings together surgeons, radiologists, software developers and engineers to develop innovative technologies in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. There is huge potential in using this technology to develop new, non-invasive therapies in a number of other medical and surgical areas, including the treatment of soft-tissue tumours, paediatric stroke and epilepsy.

Scientists explain baffling chemo resistance

For patients with ependymoma, a type of childhood brain tumour most common in babies, none of the standard chemotherapy medicines have been shown to help. While treatments for many other childhood cancers have changed and improved over the past two decades, chemotherapy for ependymoma has remained stagnant. The underlying cause of the chemo-resistance has baffled doctors until now. Novel research led by SickKids is the first to demonstrate a valid reason for why standard chemotherapies don’t work on ependymomas, and has also identified an existing FDA-approved drug that may help these young patients. Researchers hope that this can be adapted to other brain tumours as well.