This spring, Sinai Health Foundation launched a podcast called Champions of Sinai: Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic, as a way for members of our community to hear first-hand how the pandemic is changing every aspect of health care – from mental health to pregnancy, emergency medicine and more.

 Hosted by Dr. Howard Ovens, Sinai Health’s Chief Medical Strategy Officer and an emergency medicine physician, each episode features a different Sinai Health expert. We turned the tables and asked Howard a few questions about his hosting duties.

 Over the course of your career, you’ve had many opportunities to be interviewed by members of the media. How did it feel to be on the other side of the microphone?

I have enjoyed the challenge of being the host instead of the guest – trying to put my colleagues at ease while asking the question that gets us to the answer I think will be of interest to the audience and, very importantly, understood by them. The format is a luxury – we have both a fair bit of time to get detailed answers and the ability to edit our conversation to get is just right. I do think I’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along, at least I’m more confident!

What was it like to interview your colleagues, some of whom you have known and worked with for years?

While everyone I interviewed I know at least somewhat as a colleague.  Most of them very well indeed, and a few I consider friends, but still it was unusual to ask them probing personal questions. Every one we invited to participate was happy to cooperate, and very forthcoming with their thoughts and feelings. To some extent, I think this reflects the intensity of the pandemic period – we all want to share our experience of it.

What was the most surprising thing you learned?

I was quite shocked to hear from our Family Health team duo (who you will hear from in an upcoming podcast), who care for homebound frail elderly tell me they have had 14 deaths in their practice since mid-March!  And, they supported them all to die as comfortably as possible at home. A physically and emotionally exhausting challenge and a tragic number of losses (few were directly caused by COVID-19).

In hindsight, what is the one question you wished you had asked?

We have a pretty comprehensive preparation process for each episode including either an email exchange, a phone conversation or both. As a result I don’t have any regrets, each conversation felt reasonably complete to me by the time we recorded and edited it.

Finally, what stood out as highlight for you?

The highlight for me was interviewing my CEO, Gary Newton, a long standing colleague who I know very well but still it’s an honour to get to ask your boss these kinds of questions!

Champions of Sinai: Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic is available at, as well as on iTunes, GooglePlay and Spotify.