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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Inside SickKids 2014

December 2014

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, our thoughts turn to patients and families who, due to an illness that keeps their child in hospital, are unable to be with their loved ones. Some of these families have generously allowed us to share their stories with the public over the past month with our “Help make their tomorrow as good as your today” campaign

What does it mean for us at SickKids to help make a child and family’s future brighter? 

Since arriving at SickKids just under a year ago, I have been consistently impressed with how effectively we work at the intersection of clinical care, research and education.

That intersection is a special place. Not only does it offer the most advanced approaches to patient care, it also allows us to see firsthand where there’s a need for innovative research and new therapies that will make care even better – indeed, it’s the perfect place to train today and tomorrow’s caregivers to shape the field of child health.

This three-part mission of care, research and teaching is embedded in our hospital-wide strategic plan, which guides the work we do. Even as we launch a new five-year strategic plan in 2015, sharpening our focus in certain areas, we will continue to be inspired by that mission and our vision of Healthier Children. A Better World.  

The promise of a better future for kids comes first and foremost from our commitment to providing world-class quality of care. And not just medical care – care which takes into consideration the whole child and his or her developmental needs, through our multidisciplinary, family-centred care model.  This quality of care was recently recognized with a platinum level Quality Healthcare Workplace Award for SickKids.  An important focus of our strategic plan going forward will be on ensuring we have the necessary technological and physical infrastructure in place to support excellence in care.

We also recognize that the health and health care of the children we care for at SickKids is dependent on a great deal of care delivered by other providers outside our organization. Better health care for Ontario’s children depends not only on our own ability to improve care but also on improvements outside our hospital. We believe that we can create a better future by working with health-care partners, around the provincial system, towards a more integrated care model that will ensure that when children and their families leave SickKids, there is continuity of care in their communities. This will build on a range of successful relationships and programs. It will also have us rethinking the way that we work with each other across the system and how we leverage technologies like telemedicine to support treatment for children in rural and remote areas. 

Our commitment to a better future for child health also means continuing our tradition of groundbreaking research to continue to discover ways to prevent, diagnose or more effectively treat childhood illness and disease. Reaffirming our focus on innovation and exploring important areas such as regenerative medicine, genetics and cancer research will be critical to our continued excellence in research and care.

Our impact, today and into the future, is amplified through excellent teaching and by providing learning opportunities to the best and brightest young health-care providers and researchers who train at SickKids. Our strategic plan extends our commitment to education. We believe that our learning environment enhances care and creates a wonderful milieu that keeps us all learning and creative. 

The support of our community and the strength of our partnerships are critical to our ongoing success in creating a better future for children, youth and families. We look forward to working with you in the coming year and wish each of you a very happy holiday season, and best wishes for the new year.

Mike Apkon
President and CEO

October 2014

When Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui and his team announced 25 years ago that they had discovered the defective gene that causes cystic fibrosis, SickKids made history. It was a critical discovery, not just for people with CF, but for our broader understanding of human genetics and its impact on disease.   

It was no accident that the CF discovery happened at SickKids. With its long history of close interaction between basic research scientists and clinical scientists, and its critical mass of innovative thinkers, SickKids is the perfect place for health research across the spectrum, from improving basic genetic understanding through to improved outcomes for children through health systems innovations.  

As an academic health science centre, we constantly think about the connection between clinical care, research and education. These three mandates, when they come together as they do at SickKids, create an important virtuous circle.  Outstanding clinical care helps us identify the unsolved problems in paediatric health care that challenge our researchers to create innovative and creative solutions to those problems.  And through our commitment to education, we introduce those innovative solutions into practice.  This gives us a direct impact at the bedside but also a significant indirect impact on child health through training and research that has a global reach.  And at SickKids we are committed to continuing to drive that virtuous circle.

Our passion for finding ways to improve children’s health is shared by many. We are deeply grateful for the gifts we receive, large and small, which allow us to be among the best in paediatric care, research and learning. More than 13,000 people have contributed to the campaign for the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning that opened one year ago – including Peter Gilgan himself, whose transformative gift of $40 million was the single largest gift we’d ever received.

Friends of SickKids make us proud. Our second annual Great Camp Adventure Walk on Sep. 27 attracted 2,100 supporters. Together we walked up to 20 kilometres in downtown Toronto, stopping for camp activities as we went. It was an extraordinary day. By lending us their support in this manner, people supported our highest priority needs, every step of the way. We are deeply grateful for their engagement and look forward to next year’s walk.

Mike Apkon 
President and CEO

August 2014

Four years ago, SickKids launched Avenues to Excellence: 2010-2015.  This five-year strategic plan has guided our continuous improvement in patient care, research and learning and has given rise to significant new innovations.  

Building on this solid foundation, our current visioning and planning initiative – called Project Horizon – is broad in scope that starts with building a concept of the ideal paediatric health care system of the future to create a vision for SickKids as vital component of that system.     

So why are we at SickKids engaged in this broader systems thinking?  Although SickKids is very clearly an extraordinary center of highly specialized tertiary care, we are much more than that.  We are an organization with exceptionally broad multi-specialty and multi-professional expertise in the care of neonates, infants, children and youth across all segments of the health-care system.  Moreover, we are the wellspring of new knowledge and new capacity through our research and teaching programs.  We are also uniquely positioned to share our disciplined approaches to service planning, quality improvement information management and operational management that can help create a high-performing, integrated and coordinated system that provides a seamless experience for children and their families.

We have the privilege and the responsibility of caring for and collaborating with children and families, often at very difficult times in their lives. We do this in a setting where resources are increasingly constrained and where families often travel great distance to receive our care. New discoveries and new technologies, such as tele-medicine and the power of mobile devices, are creating immense opportunities to reimagine how – and where -- we deliver care as well as how we can more effectively promote health and prevent disease.  

If SickKids is going to play the role we imagine in the health-care system of the future, we will need to consider the infrastructure, facilities, and systems we will need here in downtown Toronto as well as the infrastructure, programs, and people that we will need to extend our reach through direct provision of services or through partnership with other organizations.

Project Horizon is allowing us to create a vision that resonates with the needs of the health-care system and to use that vision to plan for the kinds of investments we will make, including our facilities, so that we can have the most impact in providing safe, effective, and timely care that children need – where they need it.

I look forward to keeping you all informed as to the progress of Project Horizon.

Mike Apkon 
President and CEO

June 2014

When you have hundreds of children and families come through your doors every day seeking care, as SickKids does, you know how important it is to have the trust of your community.  We strive to continually earn that trust and build valuable partnerships with individuals and organizations.  

Our landmark building, the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning (PGCRL) on Bay and Elm Streets, is providing us with new opportunities for community engagement.  During Doors Open Toronto May 24-25, we were excited to invite our community into our new facility.  This was our first opportunity to open the PGCRL to the public, and it was a pleasure to welcome some 1,500 visitors over two days to learn more about the exciting science and learning which takes place at SickKids.

The PGCRL was also abuzz on May 2-4 when 250 creative and passionate individuals brought their talents together in “Hacking Health for Kids.” The hackathon paired members of the design and tech world with health professionals to test new and innovative concepts by rapidly building and testing prototypes – with little time or cost involved.  Some amazing apps were designed that have the potential to immediately change the way we deliver, receive and participate in our health care.

One month earlier, the PGCRL was host to a sold-out event for families. “Helping kids cope with anxiety and depression" was organized by our Learning Institute and attracted people from Toronto and further afield. We saw that there is a need for education around mental health and youth: “Have these (events) more often,” one participant urged us. We are planning to do that.

Throughout the month of May we celebrated Healthy & Happy, an event we launched three years ago. Our goal is to educate and empower Canadian families to introduce more activity, good nutrition, creativity and positive thinking in order to achieve a healthier and happier lifestyle – every month of the year!

Events like Megan’s Walk, where thousands of dedicated supporters formed a giant human hug around the hospital on May 10th for the 13th annual event in support of brain tumour research at SickKids, demonstrate the incredible support of our community, for which we are truly grateful.

SickKids also connects with the community in other ways. Take a look at our hugely popular health website, AboutKidsHealth, and our videos on YouTube.  And of course, you can always follow us on Twitter @SickKids and @SickKidsNews.  

As ever, we value your feedback in helping us meet our vision of healthier children and a better world.

Mike Apkon 
President and CEO

April 2014

SickKids earns Accreditation with Exemplary Standing

I am delighted that SickKids has been awarded Accreditation with Exemplary Standing, the highest standing possible from Accreditation Canada.

Every four years, SickKids undergoes an accreditation process by Accreditation Canada, an independent, not-for-profit organization that works with health-care organizations to help them evaluate and improve quality, safety and efficiency so they can offer the best possible care and service. Accreditation also provides recognition that an organization's services are meeting national standards of quality.

Accreditation Canada surveyors visited SickKids from last October to observe practices and processes and obtain feedback from staff, patients, families and community partners.

In their report, the surveyors highlighted SickKids’ many strengths and praised our 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.

This is great news as we move forward in our planning for the future of SickKids. Our commitment to quality is as strong as ever. Accreditation helps to keep us on track and continue to improve health outcomes for children and their families in a compassionate, innovative, responsible and efficient manner.

Learn more about performance and patient safety at SickKids.

Mike Apkon 
President and CEO

February 2014

Last fall, I was privileged to be offered the position of President and CEO at The Hospital for Sick Children. I did not hesitate to accept the opportunity to serve as the leader of one of the world’s top children’s hospitals. As an outsider coming in, and looking at things with fresh eyes, I can tell you that SickKids fully deserves its outstanding international reputation.

 It is really a special environment. I am incredibly impressed with the degree of collaboration and innovation I have seen between teams across the entire organization. I expected to see innovation richly present in the Research Institute, but innovation is happening in all areas of the hospital, in inpatient units, support areas, and administrative areas. There is an incredible connection between every employee and the work that is being done to improve the experience for all patients, families and staff. Regardless of what their role might be, the excitement of staff and volunteers as they talk about the work they are doing, and how it translates into making a difference for children and families is truly inspiring. 

The outstanding care, research and education that is carried out at SickKids is palpable, and is at the forefront of the leading paediatric institutions around the globe. As we move forward, it is going to be increasingly important for us to develop and prioritize approaches that will allow us to provide highly specialized, effective levels of care, in more efficient ways, while reducing the overall costs. Over the longer term, we have an opportunity to catalyze the development of new models of care that will define how our facility will evolve and how the overall system will function – all while putting patients and families first. It’s an important time for SickKids, as we refresh our strategic plan and envision what the future may look like, how we will partner with other providers across the province, and how we will need to prioritize investments in technology and facility development. You, as a valued member of our broader community, will be integral to helping us shape the future of SickKids. 

It’s exciting to be part of a transforming health-care system, one where powerful partnerships between providers and the broader community can play a vital role in care delivery. The creation of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance is one such example, bringing together the Ontario government, SickKids, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Trillium Health Partners, the University of Toronto and a private donor to make a significant and lasting impact on mental health care in the province. I’m looking forward to exploring more ways of working together with care providers to offer the best care possible to patients and their families in Ontario. 

Thank you for your ongoing support. I am really looking forward to working with all members of the SickKids community, and learning more about the vibrant city of Toronto and its wonderful people. 

For healthier children and a better world, 

Mike Apkon 
President and CEO