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Caring for the people who care for our patients

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As we begin a New Year, I reflect upon the exceptional dedication of staff, physicians and volunteers across Ontario hospitals who spend time away from their families every holiday season to ensure patients receive the care that they need. At a time when many hospitals are continuing to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we take care of those who take care of our patients. 

While senior health executives juggle many priorities, I have no doubt that one near the top of every hospital CEO’s list is staff and physician health and wellbeing. It certainly is for me. Our people are the heart of our hospitals and the recent pandemic served as a stark reminder that we need to be doing all we can to support team members in the workplace. A healthy and engaged workforce is not only critical to the delivery of safe, quality patient care today, but a catalyst for growing the health care workforce of tomorrow. 

As hospitals work to address the impacts of health human resource challenges being felt across the province, the question on everyone’s mind is, what steps are we taking to retain the valued health care professionals that are currently working in the system, while also encouraging a new generation to commit to the professions we need in the future? 

At Osler, we’re looking ahead and addressing this priority in several ways through enhanced wellness programming, growth opportunities, formal and informal recognition programs, strategic partnerships, and thoughtful recruitment campaigns. Other strategies include providing development and sponsorship opportunities for staff, developing pathways for clinical externs, implementing alternative models of care, and enhancing processes that help improve the flow of patients through our hospitals. To date, staff and physician response has been positive, reinforcing that we’re moving in the right direction, and we’re confident that the cumulative effect of these strategies will have a positive impact. Moving forward, it is imperative that we continue to listen to the voices of our staff and physicians to help ensure we are nurturing and supporting them in this truly noble calling.  

What we’re doing outside our walls to support team members is just as important as what’s happening inside our walls. As a family physician, I’m proud of the growing partnerships we continue to nurture with primary care and our Ontario Health Team partners. Our community care colleagues play such a significant role in supporting wellness in our communities, and in preventing unnecessary hospital visits and admissions. Working together, we can ensure patients are receiving the best care in the right place at the right time, and by the right caregivers across the entire system. 

As we work to address the wellness needs of our team members, we are focused on providing inspiring work experiences for those entering the health care profession. As Osler partners with Toronto Metropolitan University to open a new School of Medicine in Brampton in 2025, we’re acutely aware that we have an exceptional opportunity to ensure this new workforce is inspired to pursue their careers in our hospitals and in our communities. Osler’s Academic Practice Partnership with Humber College is also advancing nursing education, scholarship, and research between the two institutions.

Our health system is as good as the people who work within it. Let’s do everything in our power as senior leaders to ensure we’re taking the necessary steps to sustain the valued talent within our hospitals, communities, and schools so that Ontarians continue to receive the best care today and into the future.

Dr. Frank Martino is President & CEO, William Osler Health System. 

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