On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Since then, the teams at Sinai Health have worked tirelessly to respond to the needs of our patients, community and each other. Below are some photos taken over the course of the last year that capture an inside look at how Mount Sinai Hospital, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare and Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute have worked with dedication and compassion during a time when the only certainty was change.
Please note that photos taken over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic may not reflect the protocols now in place across Sinai Health.
Early in the pandemic, we re-deployed a number of our people at Mount Sinai Hospital and Bridgepoint Active Healthcare from their usual roles to screener shifts.
Our screeners helped ensure a safe environment for everyone by distributing masks, assisting patients with finding their way, and asking if visitors and our people had COVID-19 symptoms.
In mid-March, Mount Sinai Hospital opened an assessment centre to serve the overflow needs for the emergency department. Less than a week later, a fully operational Toronto Region COVID-19 Assessment Centre opened to serve the community.
Over the course of the pandemic, Mount Sinai Hospital’s ICU team has worked tirelessly to care for patients suffering from the worst effects of the illness, often working quickly to expand bed capacity and ensure access to critical care.
On April 19, health care workers across the city were treated to an outpouring of gratitude from some of Toronto’s emergency service providers. Emergency vehicles put on their lights and sirens to celebrate the work of hospital and long-term care workers.
In April, a team of researchers at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and the University of Toronto were in the early stages of developing a blood test to identify who is immune to COVID-19 on a mass scale. The test has the potential to screen up to 10,000 samples at once.
In the spring, when visitation was restricted, the Therapeutic Recreation team at Bridgepoint found new and creative ways to continue offering engaging programs, including painting and bingo, individually or in small, physically-distanced groups.
Backed by the Psychiatry team, resiliency coaches began visiting teams at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare and Mount Sinai Hospital in spring. This added an extra layer of mental health support for our people. Resiliency coaches shared strategies for lowering anxiety, helped teams practice breathing exercises and arranged for transportation after long shifts.
When they had to pause in-person appointments, Bridgepoint’s Ambulatory Care Centre team quickly realized the need to think differently about outpatient rehabilitation. They launched virtual rehab to continue providing patient care.
Mount Sinai’s Labour and Delivery unit planned and prepared to ensure patients, COVID-19 positive or not, have had the same supports, service and quality care. In anticipation of the first Caesarean section patient with a COVID-19 positive diagnosis, the team met regularly and even conducted a mock run-through.
When a Protected Code Blue—a medical emergency, is announced in the Mount Sinai Hospital Emergency Department, every moment is vital. Our Emergency Department conducted weekly simulations of this code to ensure diligent preparation for all scenarios. This allowed the team build a robust strategy to limit risks to anyone in the department.
New technology at the hospitals enabled care teams to communicate with patients remotely, from the nursing station. With these camera and speaker systems, care providers can easily answer questions and check on patients in isolation rooms, without donning personal protective equipment.
Throughout the pandemic, we evaluated our practices to ensure the safety of our patients and people. Working collaboratively with Infection Prevention and Control we implemented measures to allow patients to continue rehabilitation sessions.
Sinai Health accelerated plans to offer knee replacement surgery with same-day discharge. This provided patients with access to a life-enhancing procedure while minimizing risk and reducing hospital stays.
Visitor policies evolved during the pandemic as we balanced the need for family presence with the need to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposures in our hospitals. The vital role essential care partners play in supporting the health and well-being of our patients became clearer than ever.
Our Clinical Service Assistants stepped up to ensure safe spaces for our patients and our people. These trained members of our Support Services team are tasked with cleaning and sanitizing the hospital in both our clinical care areas and public spaces.
Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) at Mount Sinai also played a role in sharing information and alleviating anxieties for our Clinical Service Assistants. IPAC informed teams about how COVID-19 is spread, providing training on how to wear personal protective equipment, how to dispose of waste properly and how to keep everyone safe.
In September, the shared Sinai Health – University Health Network (UHN) microbiology department completed half a million tests for residents across the province. With the largest testing capacity in Ontario, the lab performs testing for 24 hospitals and 15 assessment centres across the province.
In December, the shared Sinai Health – University Health Network microbiology department announced the completion of one million COVID-19 tests for residents across the province.
Our vaccine squad, made up of physicians from across Sinai Health, administered the COVID-19 vaccine to complex care and long-stay patients at Mount Sinai.
At Bridgepoint, many patients were in Ontario’s highest priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine. Sinai Health’s vaccine squad was on-site to administer doses.
A study shows that a robotics platform designed by Sinai Health researchers to screen thousands of COVID-19 samples at once has the potential to revolutionize how labs track the spread of viruses and other pathogens.