About Sickkids
About SickKids

Newsletter: Inside SickKids

This is a column in SickKids Cares, an e-newsletter published jointly by The Hospital for Sick Children and SickKids Foundation and emailed to our stakeholders and donors six times a year.

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See the April 2015 Issue of SickKids Cares.

June 2015

The weather outside is warming up as we move from spring into summer. Families are preparing for the end of the school year and for the transition to summer vacation.

Here at SickKids, we’re preparing for some important transitions too. On June 30, our Chief of Research Dr. Janet Rossant will end her 10-year term at the helm of the SickKids Research Institute. Dr. Rossant is a world-renown scientist who has made countless contributions to the field of developmental and stem cell biology. Dr. Rossant is firmly committed to supporting the highest quality research and to the value of interdisciplinary collaboration to advance knowledge and improve child health outcomes. The beautiful Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, conceived, designed and constructed during her tenure, is the embodiment of her vision of a collaborative, integrated research environment and stands as a testament of her legacy.

Dr. Michael Salter, a familiar face at SickKids, will be our new Chief of Research. A neuroscientist, Dr. Salter has been at SickKids since 1989 and the head of the Neurosciences & Mental Health program (one of the 7 programs within the SickKids Research Institute) since 2006. I look forward to working closely with Dr. Salter as he takes on his new role and continues to drive innovations and research discoveries that impacts positively on child health. Dr. Salter’s mandate will include a strong focus on further strengthening research integration within our clinical environment.

Another important transition that we are currently undertaking is the introduction of an integrated hospital information system. SickKids has always been an early adopter of technology and was one of the first hospitals in Ontario to use the electronic health record (EHR). In the past, however, there has not been a single platform that could serve all the individual areas of the hospital. Therefore, technology was chosen based on what was the best for each area. Now, as EHRs have matured, integrated solutions are possible. Currently, we are determining which technology will work best for SickKids and are fully committed to the vision “one child, one chart, one team”. The integrated data collection from one clinical IT platform that tells a child’s ‘full story’ will benefit all areas of SickKids, will improve efficiencies, provide opportunities to strengthen clinical research, and offer a more seamless care experience for patients and their families.

As we embark on this important and exciting clinical informatics journey, we have a new Chief Information Officer joining SickKids who is fully up to the challenge. Dr. Sarah Muttit will join SickKids in July from Alberta Health Sciences where she most recently served as the Chief Medical Information Officer.

It is clear that summer will be a time of important transitions here at SickKids and we are looking forward to it.

I wish you all a safe and happy summer.

Mike Apkon
President and CEO

April 2015

On April 3 1875, Elizabeth McMaster established The Hospital for Sick Children to improve the lives of children in need of health care.  As we mark the 140th birthday of our organization, we remain true to our founder’s vision, dedicated to improving the lives of the children and families we have the privilege of serving.  But of course we do so in a radically changed context, building on progress in health research and education to provide increasingly interdisciplinary, integrated, but also complex, care.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity to look back and look forward.  We have much to be proud of at SickKids. On March 25, we were delighted to learn that Dr. Janet Rossant, SickKids’ Chief of Research, was awarded The Gairdner Wightman Award for her “outstanding scientific contributions to developmental biology and for her exceptional international leadership in stem cell biology and policy-making, and in advancing research programs for children’s illnesses.” The Canada Gairdner Awards are among the world’s most esteemed medical research prizes. This is fitting recognition for Janet, who will be stepping down as Chief in June after 10 years.  Her vision for collaborative, interdisciplinary science will continue to make its mark on the next generation not just here at SickKids but nationally.

Setting the stage for the coming years, we are in the midst of leadership renewal at SickKids, most recently with the recruitment of Dr. Lennox Huang to SickKids. Recruited from McMaster, Dr. Huang will serve as Chief Medical Officer and Vice President, Medical and Academic Affairs.

We are also about to launch the organization’s new strategic plan for the coming five years.  Some areas of focus are briefly described below; the full plan will be publically available on our website after April 13.  

Building on our successes over the past five years, our strategic plan aims to amplify the very core of what we do – caring for highly specialized, complex patient needs. As we enhance what we do within our four walls, we recognize that our ability to have the biggest impact on the children we care for is increasingly dependent on the services children receive outside our walls.  Our ability to sustain our focus on the most advanced care depends on other healthcare needs being met by other highly capable providers. We believe that we have an obligation to champion the development of an integrated system that facilities the seamless movement of children and families across the continuum of care.

We will continue to address the universal challenge of balancing cost, quality and access in a fiscally-constrained environment, drawing on the talents of our most important asset – the staff and volunteers who work at SickKids.  We need to capitalize on new approaches to enhance patient safety and enhance our culture as a high reliability organization that is consistent with being a top children’s hospital. 

Our facilities, infrastructure, and technologies must continue to support the most contemporary, high quality, safe and family centred care and continue to allow us to bring new and innovative approaches to care to the bedside.

We have developed our strategic plan with a high level of thoughtful engagement from our staff, our partners in government, and philanthropy and of course, most importantly, our patients and families.  We look forward to embracing the opportunities before us in order to continue to build a world-class organization for generations to come, striving to continuously improve our organization and the system on which our patients and families depend. 

Mike Apkon
President and CEO

February 2015

It’s been just over a year since I joined SickKids, and it has been an amazing journey.

When I first arrived at SickKids, my top priority was getting to know staff at the hospital and the foundation, and meeting with both boards. From the very first day, I was impressed with the passion for excellence, the commitment to our patients and families, and the deep expertise of our staff.

We have had an incredibly successful year at SickKids and these accomplishments are a tremendous source of organizational pride.

  • We had the busiest calendar year in recent memory with more than 7,700 patients in our Emergency Department in December alone.
  • We saw remarkable momentum building in reducing the time patients needed to stay in hospital, which in turn helped us to look after more patients.
  • We celebrated our first anniversary in the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, and we are already witnessing new collaborations that are creating new ways to think about disease and treatment. This kind of work is a contributor to our being ranked the most research-intensive hospital in Canada.
  • We continue to be recognized as one of Toronto’s top employers, and we won the Quality Workplace Platinum Award for the fourth year in a row by the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
  •  We received exemplary standing by Accreditation Canada.

Our impact is also reflected in the support we receive from our government and the public, such as the recent announcement by the Canadian government of $9.5 million to support our work with paediatric caregivers in Ghana; the support our Foundation has secured for our work in the Caribbean, Greece, and Ukraine, and the many invitations we receive to help build capacity in other parts of the world.

And you see it in the transformative gift to establish the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research – a remarkable opportunity to build on our partnership with the University of Toronto and the University Health Network to change the face of heart disease.

We’ve spent a good deal of this past year trying to anticipate the future and thinking about how we can continue to further our vision of Healthier Children. A Better World.

Through the work of Project Horizon – planning for our long-term strategic renewal, including development of our infrastructure – we’ve engaged our community to see how we can amplify our impact, and we’ve developed clear priorities for program development, investments in technology and infrastructure, and for ensuring that our facilities allow us to deliver the highest quality, most specialized care available.

Through this process, I’ve had a chance to deepen my understanding of the Ontario health-care system, connected with colleagues in other organizations, the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health, the LHINs and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and to develop a shared vision with the Board and the Executive team.

This spring we will be officially launching our exciting new strategic plan, which provides us with our roadmap for the next five years.

As we consider the evolution of the Ontario health system, I see tremendous opportunities for developing a more integrated paediatric health system in the province, one that better serves children and families. I am convinced that SickKids has a significant leadership role to play, in fact, a real responsibility, in that evolution.  

I look forward to building partnerships that will realize this opportunity, for the benefit children and families across Ontario.

Mike Apkon
President and CEO