Terry Pursell, President and CEO, North York General Foundation

COVID-19 Updates: Message from the President – April 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

This weekend, I will be thinking of our city’s first responders and our health care workers on the front line, and many more behind the scenes. I will also be especially grateful that my family remains in good health. I know that there are thousands less fortunate who are coping with COVID-19 and other health issues and wish you the best in these trying times.

We are in the midst of marking two significant holidays, Passover and Easter. But these celebrations are not like those of the past as we are only able to attend church or Temple virtually and can’t gather “live” for traditional large meals with our families and friends. Many of you will be partaking in a second Seder supper this evening and whilst you may be apart from your loved ones, you are together in your shared traditions. In fact, a friend remarked he enjoyed a “virtual” first Seder last night and was finding it handy to be able to mute select relatives at will. Easter brunches and dinners this weekend will be modified but I think it gives us time to reflect on how fortunate we are to be living in Canada (yet again) during this global crisis.

On a lighter note, the absence of the Easter Bunny will be explained as #stayhome and because my family is not able to be together, these 20+ year old buckets will be put away for another year (yes, my adult children still compete for who can find the most eggs!).

No matter how you are choosing to spend this long weekend, I hope you have the opportunity to recharge and reflect.

Despite uncertain social and economic conditions, our community has demonstrated incredible grace and compassion through letters, emails, phone calls, donations of PPE, donations of goods and donations of money to our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. This fund was established to help the hospital address emerging needs as we tackle the crisis and I think it is important to share some of what this fund has made possible:

Virtual Visits at North York General - Patient and his nurse using a donor funded iPad for a virtual visit with his family.

Virtual Visiting Program

With the sudden change to the Visitors Policy due to COVID-19, we launched a Virtual Family Visitor program at our Seniors’ Health Centre (SHC) and in our ICU, the Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care, and for other patients who would like visit with their loved ones using technology. The program is facilitated by two recreational therapists and an elder life specialist that work with patients and their families to schedule visiting times. Thanks to donations to the Emergency Response Fund, we purchased over 100 iPads to help initiate this program and plan to scale up as needed. Here is a wonderful testimonial from one of the families who is benefiting from the Virtual Family Visiting program:

Since my husband Jess was admitted to North York General in early February, I visited him daily before the visitor policy changed due to COVID-19. My daughter and I truly appreciate you making it possible for us to be with him. It was such a wonderful feeling to finally see him again and let him know how much we miss him.

Thank you so much for facilitating these video calls and also for doing such a great job during this critical time.

— May,  grateful wife and mother

Watch a video of our Virtual Visitor program here

Portable X-Ray machine at North York General Hospital

Two new portable X-ray units on the front line

When we think of the front line, we often imagine doctor and nurses but in this battle, X-ray technicians are right there too. The Emergency Response Fund enabled the quick purchase of two X-ray units with one in use in the COVID-19 Assessment Centre and the other being used to image COVID-19 patients and droplet contact patients in the ICU and on other patient floors. For infection control and safety, the X-ray techs perform imaging at the bedside, instead of moving the patients around the hospital.

These are just two examples of how our community is helping our residents and patients cope and also how donations directly impact assessment and care of COVID patients and those at risk. Despite the turmoil and uncertainly in your lives, you, our donor community, has signaled an understanding and appreciation of North York General in caring for over half a million people.

If you have already donated to the Emergency Response Fund, I hope you know how much it has impacted our ability to purchase Personal Protective Equipment, retrain staff for the Critical Care Unit, provide meals for our health care workers, offer mental health and wellness support for our staff, expand our virtual care, establish screening centres at our entrances, purchase critical equipment and has allowed us to respond to any emerging need in tackling COVID-19.

If you are in a position to give NYGHtacklesCOVID19.ca or perhaps would like to launch your own fundraising effort, please go to FundraiseForNYGH.ca for more information on how you can help fight a global crisis close to home.

Chag Sameach, Happy Easter and everyone enjoy your long weekend and please #stayhome.

Terry Pursell
Terry Pursell
President & CEO