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Making a difference inside and outside LMP

July 24, 2015
Sharon Wilson, Histology Technologist, LMP, and outstanding volunteer at the West Park Healthcare Centre. (Photo: LMP Communications)

Sharon Wilson, Histology Technologist, LMP, and outstanding volunteer at the West Park Healthcare Centre. (Photo: LMP Communications)

Staff in the Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP) make a difference each day in the life’s of patients be it indirectly in a pathologists office or face to face in our Blood Lab Collection Centres. Amazingly some staff just want to do more.

This is true of Sharon Wilson, a part time Histology Technologist with LMP, who volunteers at least one full day a week at the West Park Healthcare Centre.

“I always want to be making a difference,” says Sharon. “No matter how large or small – a smile can move mountains.”

It’s that attitude which made her the recipient of the West Park President’s Award for Values. The annual award is given to recognize and honour employees, physicians, and volunteers who consistently make an outstanding contribution to life at West Park.

Sharon started volunteering at West Park for just two and a half hours on Friday mornings. Now she’s there for full days, at a time, and is involved in the outdoor gardening program as well as other recreation therapy programs. Her fellow gardeners are long term complex care residents, and the program functions as a fun and sensory option for recreation therapy.

“Everyone actively participates,” says Sharon, “and I like to see them get their hands dirty.” she says with a laugh.

The garden consists of flowers, vegetables, and herbs, and is growing into a bit of a local farm. The herbs are all sold at a fall fair with proceeds going back to West Park, and the vegetables are used in house for their Happy Chefs cooking program.

Candidates for the West Park President’s Award for Values are based on peer nominations, and recipients are chosen by a committee. Sharon was this year’s award recipient in the Respect category, which is attributed to one who:

  • Demonstrates patience and active listening
  • Acknowledges diversity by recognizing each individuals uniqueness and dignity
  • Recognizes the competence and commitment of others
  • Offers suggestions in a positive and encouraging manner

“It’s a blast!” says Sharon. “It’s total interaction with patients, and you can’t help but leave satisfied and genuinely happy with the work you accomplish. To everyone: I can’t recommend volunteering enough.”

Congratulations Sharon, and keep up the amazing work!

LMP 2015 Staff Forum – Highest attendance yet!

July 16, 2015

staff forum photo1

This week the Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP) held its 2015 Staff Forum at Toronto General Hospital to review the past year’s performance, and discuss the future of laboratory science with staff.

“It’s important to create these opportunities for discussion,” says Dr. Runjan Chetty, Interim Medical Director, LMP. “Staff are what make this program the success it is. They need to understand where we are, and more than that have an influence on where we’re going and how we get there.”

The Staff Forum, led by Brad Davis, Executive Director, LMP attracted approximately 90 staff across various departments and sites, and had Dr. Charlie Chan, Vice President, UHN answering questions at the open ‘Q&A.’

Key topics focused on: leadership structure, partnership updates, LMP achievements, and future developments.

New Leadership Structure

The leadership structure at LMP has been modified recently to create more active communication between medical and administrative staff. The Executive Advisory Committee is now merged with Medical Leadership to form one leadership team. It will create more opportunities for involvement and participation, and allows all areas of LMP to be more connected in planning and decision making.

Partnership Updates

The first of LMP’s strategic priorities (est. 2013) is: Strengthening presence regionally, provincially, and globally. LMP’s existing partnerships already make a significant impact on international laboratory science. With a great base group of partnerships in Canada, there are now revamped initiatives to strengthen ties in Kuwait and Qatar. This summer there will be medical staff from both countries visiting the labs at UHN and learning from our practices.

LMP Achievements

  • First Lab in Canada to offer amyloid testing
  • Renovated and remodeled staffing structure at the Princess Margaret Blood Lab to increase patient capacity and flow
  • Created program where transfusion patients have blood taken close to home and sent to UHN for transfusion prep, reducing patient time in-hospital
  • Providing ROTEM point-of-care coagulation testing, minimizing turnaround test times and unnecessary transfusions
  • Whole genome profiling 3000+ patients for personalized treatments
  • Received grant funding for national genome project providing LMP expertise to patients across the country
  • Established best practice for Ebola point-of-care testing, and worked as a designated facility
  • Successfully reached terms on collective bargaining agreement with Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Future Developments

The Future for LMP seems to have a lot in store.  There is a new partnership in the works between UHN and the Michener Institute which can help advance LMP’s academic mission, and provide students exemplary instruction. Also, there is a potential opportunity to develop space for LMP in the MaRs Tower Two. Stay tuned…

staff forum photo2

To view the slide deck presented at the LMP 2015 Staff Forum, please see under “Staff Resources” on the LMP corporate Intranet site: HERE

‘It’s an incredible honour’ – LMP welcomes new leader

July 15, 2015

In case you missed it: UHN News published a story on Interim Medical Director, LMP, Dr. Runjan Chetty.

Interim Medical Director, LMP, Dr. Runjan Chetty with a microscope used to view tissue samples at a cellular level, and provide accurate diagnoses for UHN patients. (Photo: Laboratory Medicine Program)

Interim Medical Director, LMP, Dr. Runjan Chetty with a microscope used to view tissue samples at a cellular level, and provide accurate diagnoses for UHN patients. (Photo: Laboratory Medicine Program)

The Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP) has an impact on nearly every patient that comes through UHN hospitals and provides physicians with the necessary information to effectively treat patients

The program specializes in research, education, and clinical services helping shape the future of laboratory science at UHN

As the newly appointed Interim Medical Director, LMP, Dr. Runjan Chetty shares how he plans to advance the great work already being done by the program


The Leadership Awards are back!

July 3, 2015

leadership awards

The Laboratory Medicine Leadership Awards committee is now accepting nominations! Each year, the Laboratory Medicine Program (LMP) formally recognizes staff members who demonstrate outstanding leadership in their day-to-day schedules.

“Leadership can mean many different things in laboratory medicine,” explains Michele Henry, Senior Director, LMP. “We have roles for ‘official’ leaders, but these awards recognize those who go above and beyond what is expected from them, and lead by example to bring out the best in others.”

Staff are nominated by their colleagues and coworkers, through the submission of a nomination form. Three candidates are then chosen by the Awards Committee and will be presented a certificate and an award of $350 each.

“The recognition is so important,” says Michele. “Because leadership is a highly valued trait at LMP, it’s important to recognize and promote the excellence at work here every day. There are many deserving staff in the program, and being able to shine some light on the leadership they demonstrate is great practice.”

Last year our three winners were Wes Morrison, Jennifer Hardaker and Anselmo Fabros, and this year it could be you!

All nomination forms must be submitted by July 17th to Linda Karkada. For more information on the Laboratory Medicine Leadership Awards and nomination forms, please visit the corporate intranet page and see under Staff Resources: HERE.

Revitalizing the blood lab: Patient experience makeover

June 26, 2015
Blood lab before after

The before and after renovation photos of one of LMP’s blood collection stations at the                                                 Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. (Photo: Laboratory Medicine Program)

Joice Guspie, a patient and staff member at University Health Network, makes regular visits to the Laboratory Medicine Program’s (LMP) Blood Lab Collection Centre (BLCC), where blood is collected and sent for analysis.
“I usually arrive with a newspaper and a book in my bag, ready for a long wait. It’s a very busy place,” Joice says.
Recently the BLCC in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre underwent significant renovations and increased staff, providing improved patient wait times, capacity, and care – for Joice and thousands of others.

The role of pathology in new prostate cancer research

June 16, 2015

Dr. Theodorus Van der Kwast in the Laboratory Medicine Program’s glass slide library, where specimen samples are securely archived for future review and analysis.

Laboratory Medicine Program’s (LMP) Dr. Theodorus Van der Kwast is the lead pathologist in the Canadian Prostate Cancer Genome Network (CPC-GENE) Sequencing Project, which recently discovered a new gene signature in prostate cancer that may help determine disease aggression and specialized treatment.

The study involved the molecular profiling of 74 patients and aims to eventually include surgical samples from 250 patients with prostate cancer. Dr. Van der Kwast, Genitourinary Pathologist, LMP, plays an essential role in acquiring specimens for research, and in this study focuses on patients diagnosed with an intermediate risk prostate cancer. This means the tumours behave quite variably – some with a very slow growth, others that are more aggressive, and a small subset even fatal.

“It’s not easy to collect that number of fresh, frozen specimen samples, especially with such specific criteria,” said Dr. Van der Kwast, who acquired samples from Biospecimen Services, as well as a separate biobank in Quebec. “As a pathologist, we need to ensure we have the highest quality specimen, and that each one meets the same criteria as the last.”

Once all 74 specimen samples were collected, Dr. Van der Kwast and assisting pathologists began studying each specimen individually – making sure there’s a large enough sample of the tumour with the necessary tumour cellularity, and that each specimen is characterized appropriatley, including tumour differentiation grade. After carefully analyzing each of the 74 patient specimens, five individual patients were selected for further investigation.

“I believe that pathology plays such a vital role in this type of cancer research because we are the ones laying the groundwork or the foundation for the rest of the research to come,” says Dr. Van der Kwast. “As lead pathologist, I need to ensure all our samples are very well defined, and the pathology data is able to support the research findings. It’s an essential part of any medical research done at the cellular level, and it requires true collaboration from the pathologists and the rest of the research team to make our work successful.”

“Without any one of us the project would fall apart.”

The research for the CPC-GENE sequencing project will work towards developing a diagnostic test to identify whether a specific cancer gene is present in a patient, and will help determine the aggression of the disease and the likelihood of it spreading outside the prostate during treatment. In addition, the molecular-genetic data of the CPC-GENE project will be made publicly available for the international community.

“It’s incredible research that our team has accomplished, and the pathology data we’ve collected is going to help advance other research projects, and new findings around the world,” says Dr. Van der Kwast. “We plan to publish the genomic data from each specimen so new studies can collaborate with our research, and we can work together to advance our understanding of prostate cancer on an international level.”

CPC-GENE is a member of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), which collects the genomic data from cancer research all over the world. The consortium works as a central database for all types of cancers and allows researchers to compare genomic data, develop new findings, and conduct new research with the assurance that each specimen is reviewed by a pathologist.

“In some ways, all research teams work competitively against each other. But we also need each other to advance our findings, and to advance the diagnoses and treatment options available to patients,” says Dr. Van der Kwast. “Compiling the genomic data and making it available to others is exactly how we need to collaborate. It’s a great forum for pathologists and an exciting step forward for pathology.”

The Value of Blood Transfusion: A Patient’s Story

June 11, 2015

elaine 2Elaine Fagan first found out she had sickle cell disease in 1981 when she was five months pregnant. After being admitted to the hospital, she didn’t get to go back home until 2 months after giving birth.

As blood transfusions are part of the treatment plan for some patients suffering with sickle cell disease, Elaine has had many, many transfusions over the years.

Recently, Elaine told a member of UHN’s Red Blood Cell Disorders Program and Medical Surgical Day Unit that she used to be scared of transfusion but now she is coming to forum meetings and talking to patients about her positive experience at UHN.

While a blood transfusion may feel like it takes up most of the day, Elaine emphasizes that she immediately feels the positive effects of her transfusions.

She would often suffer from shortness of breath, leg pain and swelling – but after the transfusion they diminish over the next couple of days and by the third day are often completely gone.

“I used to walk to the elevator (at home). Now I run to the elevator,” says Elaine. “I do everything like a normal person. I feel like I have nothing to worry about.”

Elaine has expressed her gratitude to her clinicians and support workers for how great she’s been feeling since she had the blood transfusion and is thrilled with the positive change in her health.

“The doctors are trying their best to help me and give me treatment to tackle my disease so I have to try too because they are trying,” she says, emphasizing the role everyone plays, including the patient, clinician, nurses and laboratory medicine team, in delivering quality care to all our patients.


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