Fast-forward 25 years later, and she has now been appointed as the Division Director for Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Johnstone was destined to make a significant impact in the field of infectious diseases.
“I am so thrilled to take on this new role,” said Dr. Jennie Johnstone, Infectious Diseases Physician at UHN/Sinai Health and Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) at Sinai Health. “It is truly an honour.”
Dr. Johnstone has been leading the IPAC team at Sinai Health — monitoring and preventing infection across Mount Sinai and Hennick Bridgepoint Hospitals. Her and her team track cases of health-care associated infections including influenza, gastrointestinal infections, and surgical site infections among others.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she played a pivotal role in providing expert guidance to hospitals and helped developed clinical guidelines for the National Advisory Committee on Infection Prevention and Control for the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ontario Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC) and Ontario Health Toronto Region working groups.
A big part of her role is also providing patient care. Dr. Johnstone believes that seeing patients is essential for staying grounded and understanding the importance of infectious diseases and IPAC work. “Seeing first-hand how infections can be so detrimental in someone’s life is what pushes me to continue my work in infection prevention and control.”
As she steps into her new position at the University of Toronto, Dr. Johnstone says she is eager to further build collaboration among hospital sites. A big part of that is fostering a new generation of infectious diseases specialists. Being the largest Infectious Diseases Division in Canada, Dr. Johnstone is excited to further develop a strategy for recruiting and retaining talent, with a strong focus on equity, diversity and inclusion.
Dr. Johnstone earned her medical degree from Dalhousie University and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease at the University of Alberta. She then pursued a clinical research fellowship in Edmonton and obtained a PhD in Health Research Methodology (Epidemiology) from McMaster University. After completing her doctoral studies, she became an IPAC Physician at Public Health Ontario and practiced Infectious Diseases at St. Joseph’s Health Center. She continues to serve in her role at Sinai Health.
In all her endeavors, if it be in a hospital setting or stepping into her new role at the University of Toronto, her message has always been clear: when it comes Infectious diseases that are often changing and unpredictable, preparation is key.