Terry Pursell, President and CEO, North York General Foundation

Message from the President – March 12, 2021

Dear Friends,

It has been a while since I have been in touch, but I wanted to wait for the right time and provide an update on our 2021 so far. Every time I put fingers to keys, something significant happened related to lockdowns, variants, deaths, vaccines or infection rate, and I just couldn’t bring myself to write. This week, we were buoyed by the increase in vaccine availability but still face the reality of the variant spread and the growing, real threat of a third wave. As you may know, Thursday, March 11th marked the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic. Very soon after, it hit us right here in our communities. We are grateful for our health care and front line workers across the GTA who have dedicated their lives to our care and well being.

However, nothing can penetrate the hope and optimism I experience more and more every day, and I do have good news to share. Perhaps it was starting the week with International Women’s Day and being reminded of all the incredible women in our midst, including the recent appointment of Karyn Popovich as the hospital’s President and CEO. Please click here to see our feature on some of these exceptional women and why we are so fortunate to have them on Team North York General!

Or perhaps my optimism has been unleashed by the annual Newsweek Magazine hospital ranking which has once again recognized North York General as the #1 community hospital in Canada, top 5 of all hospitals across the country and top 60 in the world for the third year in a row. This speaks to the deep commitment of our entire hospital team and the undeniable impact of the donor community in caring for our patients and their families. Philanthropy in all its forms saves lives and improves the care experience.

Another reason for my optimism could be the spring-like weather and lack of layers needed on my run yesterday, but more likely it is stories such as this one in The Toronto Star, which featured North York General Family Medicine Physician Dr. Jordana Sacks, inoculating her own 98 year old grandmother and holocaust survivor. All across the GTA, clinics are doing incredible work to get shots in arms so please read this for the current info on North York General vaccine clinics and the priority of patients as directed by the province. New information circulates all the time, so please check back at our regular COVID-19 site for the most up to date information.

Since I referenced my run, I was put to shame by the efforts of The Maddie Project (TMP) and some 190 runners from around the world who raised over $100,000 last weekend to upgrade the Paediatric Mental Health Inpatient Unit at North York General. These weekend warriors completed a gruelling Goggins Challenge which is running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours

Special thanks to Michael Neale who spearheaded this challenge to benefit North York General Hospital and to Nicole German, Chair of the Foundation Board and Founder of TMP.

Support for mental health care has never been more critical with an increased length of stay and higher levels of acuity across our inpatient units, and an increased demand for our outpatient mental health programs. It is our Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency that is often the first point of care for mental health patients who are in crisis across all generations and communities. In order to meet these needs, we know we have to expand our Emergency Department footprint, and we couldn’t think of any more clear messaging than “We Need More Space”. We are establishing a dedicated Mental Health Emergency Services Unit and expanding our Ambulatory Unit to meet the growing needs of the communities we serve. I invite you to learn more here.

One of my letters last year was written around Easter time with some photos of traditions recalled and gatherings on hold. Unfortunately, this is the second Easter and Passover that we won’t be able to mark in our usual manner, but it will be celebrated none the less in new ways and traditions, perhaps with new hobbies or activities that have been perfected over the pandemic lockdown. My latest is Pickleball (yes it is a real thing) played outdoors against my husband on our quiet street with the familiar shout of “car” to signal the need to move the net. I think I am pretty good, but I imagine my father would beat me if he were still around (he took it up in his 80s) given his masterful lifetime of table tennis and golf.

It isn’t how hard you whack the ball, but the tactics employed to get it to the right spot –kind of a lesson in there somewhere I think.

Take care of yourselves and stay safe,

Terry Pursell

Terry Pursell
President & CEO