The year 2020 will have a unique place in history. A 12-month rollercoaster that had us pivoting both as individuals and healthcare professionals, together we encountered not only unprecedented challenges, but also unprecedented achievements. While this year will mean something different for each of us, personally I will remember the courage, compassion, dedication and innovation that helped Women’s College Hospital respond to one of the biggest healthcare crises of our lifetime.
Patient care has always been at the forefront of WCH. When we had to limit the care provided on site due to the pandemic, teams across the hospital quickly reimagined, retooled and responded. With unprecedented speed we pivoted and created innovative platforms to provide virtual care and launched COVID Care@Home. New clinical care pathways were introduced including non-touch abortions and virtual counselling, and new processes were quickly implemented to adapt to our new world. Within academics, our research teams began to look at the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities to identify and shine a light on the gaps in care so that we could continue building a more equitable system.
WCH was one of the first hospitals in the downtown core to open a COVID-19 Assessment Centre. Driven by a commitment to equitable care, we also quickly formed mobile assessment teams to reach beyond our walls and deep into the community to support long-term care homes, shelters and schools and work alongside our partners to detect and stop the spread of the virus.
As new needs from our patients, community and healthcare system emerged, WCH staff, physicians and learners were always amongst the first to put up their hands and offer to help. Often taking on new roles in uncharted territories, we all came together to keep each other safe.
COVID-19 also helped shine a light on some of the deep inequities that exist within our healthcare system and the deeply engrained institutional racism that exists in our communities. Addressing anti-Black racism has been a priority for our hospital and I admire everyone’s willingness and courage to take on this deep examination of our systems, structures and ourselves to understand the challenges being faced and how we can best move forward together.
The successes we experienced this year responding to COVID were not coincidental. It is because we have a well-thought out strategy that is the foundation of all decisions. We made marked progress towards our goals of health equity, exceptional care experiences, an integrated system of care and innovation, and world-class research and education. It is this unified focus that guided us this year and will continue to guide us into the future.
As we look towards 2021, I do so with optimism. In part because of the promise of a vaccine potentially bringing an end to the pandemic, but mostly because of all the work that happens day-in and day-out at Women’s College. I firmly believe we have some of the best, brightest and most passionate people. Their relentless quest to reach higher and further in the name of a healthier and more equitable world will revolutionize care for our patients, their families and the entire system. They are the shining light of the future.
I want to thank all of staff, physicians, learners, volunteers and donors for their commitment this year. Words cannot fully express my gratitude and we extend our sincere thanks. I also want to acknowledge the family and friends that stood behind our staff and physicians and helped them be at their best. This year was tough on everyone and we know many sacrifices were made.
While the holidays will be a little different this year amongst restrictions and many healthcare and essential workers are on the frontlines, I do hope everyone has a chance to enjoy some time with loved ones. On behalf of the entire leadership team I extended wishes for a peaceful season filled with moments of joy.
Happy 2021 to you all.