EPIC 2019 Poster Expo
The EPIC Research and Innovation Fair took place on June 19 2019.

Ninth Annual EPIC Research and Innovation Fair celebrates inventive minds at MGH

On June 19 2019, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), Toronto East Health Network held its annual EPIC Research, Innovation, and Education Scholarship fair.

By Isabel Terrell

On June 19 2019, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), Toronto East Health Network held its annual EPIC Research, Innovation, and Education Scholarship fair.

The day allowed staff, volunteers and physicians the chance to share and celebrate over 25 projects across many areas of the hospital with one common goal: innovate to improve care at MGH.

“This is absolutely my favourite day of the year at the hospital,” says Sarah Downey, MGH president and CEO. “I’m inspired by the people and ideas to improve care, that we are spreading across our hospital and into our community.”

Sarah hosted the day’s events, which included a Dragons’ Den competition, a poster expo, mock-up tours of the new Ken and Marilyn Thomson Patient Care Centre, and an awards ceremony.

Here are the highlights from the day. Congratulations to the 2019 winners!

Dragons' Den Competition

EPIC kicked off with MGH’s first Dragons’ Den competition. Eight teams prepared pitch presentations for a chance to win up to $5,000 towards their innovations to pilot at MGH. Five teams walked away with funds to either start or support their initiatives. Pitches were evaluated by panel of judges for their alignment with MGH priorities: inclusion of patient and interprofessional input, innovation and evaluation opportunities and overall presentation.

The Dragons Den awards were made possible through a donation from the Susannah Biggs Family Fund. Susannah Biggs was a pharmacist, world traveller, lover of the arts and a life-long East York resident. She was also a committed supporter of Michael Garron Hospital. After she passed away in 2016, she directed annual grants to Michael Garron Hospital to support research and innovation initiatives.

Jeff Powis and Connie Adair
Jeff Powis and Connie Adair accepted a Dragons' Den award for their patient privacy tent pitch.

We got you covered: Connie Adair, supported by Jeff Powis, awarded $1,400 towards her patient privacy tent project  

Dragons' Den awards
Members of the "Keeping on Track" team accepted a Dragons' Den award towards their physical rehabilitation innovation.
  • Keeping on Track: Karen Kerry and Tara Nguyen, awarded $600 towards increasing mobility and enhancing the physical rehabilitation program 


Building Bridges Breakfast Program
Contributing members of the 'Kick Start your Day' Dragons' Den team were the recipients of an award on June 19.
  • Kick Start your Day: Andrew Bringas, Claudine Burke, Janet Gothreau, Krista Lemke, Richard Scott, and Sam Wong, awarded $2,000 towards the development of an educational breakfast program aimed at youth aged 12 to 17 who are unable to attend community school because of mental health concerns


Trevor Finney
Trevor Finney won funds to pilot a spiritual care assessment tool at MGH.
  • Integrating Spiritual Health and Palliative Care: Trevor Finney, awarded $3,000 towards the development of an assessment tool to ensure patients’ spiritual needs are addressed at end of life


Sparking Joy: pitch team
Sarah Bingler, Jenn Daniel and Nancy Jones made up one of five winning Dragons' Den teams.

Sparking Joy: Sarah Bingler, Jenn Daniel and Nancy Jones, awarded $1,000 to improve care for patients affected by obesity inspired by Marie Kondo  

Photo gallery: Click through to see photos from the Dragons' Den competition

Poster Expo

Eighteen research posters were presented at EPIC, each categorized into one of three pillars of MGH’s strategic plan: Be Excellent, Lead Wisely, and Build Community.

A great panel of nine judges from the hospital, our community partners and patients, surveyed the posters for initiatives that had the greatest impacts on the East Toronto community, says Mark Fam, EPIC 2019 judge and vice president of programs at MGH.

“We saw a really interesting balance of innovative projects happening inside our walls, with just as many happening outside with our community partners,” says Mark. EPIC is a great way to “celebrate and spark” MGH teams to think about innovation “in partnership with our patients and peer organizations, helping our vision to ‘Create Health. Build Community’ come alive.”

Be Excellent Award winners
Contributing members of the PODS research team accepted the Be Excellent Award on June 19.

The award for "Be Excellent" went to Getting it Right: Partnering with Patients to Improve the Journey Home using PODS.

PODS is a research-based tool co-created with patients and families to ensure patients can better understand their discharge information. The Surgery Inpatient Council used the PODS framework to highlight the five crucial pieces of information patients need at discharge through a series of inpatient educational handouts. The initiative saw a 36 per cent increase in patients receiving enough information post-surgery, as found through automated phone calls, also using the PODS framework.

“What’s great about this initiative is that it can be applied to any unit in the hospital that discharges patients,” says Lindsay Siple, patient experience specialist at MGH.

“There is an emphasis on patient-centred care at MGH and it drives a lot of the work we do. It’s really great to be able to implement that in practice and see a patient-focused initiative having so much success,” says Lindsay.

Peoples' Choice Award winners
Research partners at South Riverdale Community Health Centre accepted the Peoples' Choice Award on June 19.

The award for "Peoples' Choice" went to Task shifting in HCV testing and research: Improving knowledge of HCV status through a peer outreach Hepatitis C point of care project in Toronto.

An estimated 44 per cent of people living with chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) do not know their status, according to the research team.

 The project’s objective was to examine whether point-of-care Hepatitis C antibody testing by outreach workers with the lived experience of HCV would increase testing and care.

 Eleven clients of the Toronto Community Hep C Program were hired and trained as outreach workers to deliver education and testing among those who have less access to healthcare. The project was developed in collaboration with South Riverdale, Regent Park and Sherbourne community-based, primary care health centres, and MGH.

 “It’s important to recognize that people with the lived experience of Hep C can and should be meaningfully involved in not only program development and delivery but in all phases of research,” says Jennifer Broad, South Riverdale Community Health Centre. She added that the project demonstrates that – given the opportunity and  support - those with lived experience can improve and expand research in a way that is meaningful to the community it seeks to serve. 

This research was funded by Solutions – East Toronto’s Health Collaborative, a voluntary partnership of East Toronto healthcare organizations working together to address gaps, better meet the needs of shared clients and address provincial healthcare priorities.

Lead Wisely Award Winners
Members of the pharmacy services team accepted the Lead Wisely Award on June 19.

The award for "Lead Wisely" went to Preemptive Inpatient Penicillin Allergy Assessment and Testing. 

Penicillin allergies are the most common drug allergy, yet over 90 per cent of patients reporting a penicillin allergy can safely tolerate it, as well as related antibiotics.

Members of the pharmacy services team at MGH established a re-assessment strategy to de-label allergies where possible so that patients can receive optimal antibiotic treatment with less adverse side-effects.

The project saw increased de-labelling of penicillin allergies over four months with no adverse effects.

Build Community Award Winners
Members of the research team for Begin Right. Eat. Play accepted the Build Community Award on June 19.

The award for "Build Community" went to Begin Right. Eat. Play: Developing Community Partnerships for 'Not in My Children'- type 2 diabetes prevention from preconception in East Toronto's highest risk region. 

Type 2 diabetes has commonly been an Adult onset disease. Now, however, it’s being seen in children as young as 4 years of age accompanied by unusually early kidney and eye disease,” confirmed Amber Sami, project coordinator, MGH medicine health services.

Located in a high-rise, high-density area of Toronto, MGH serves areas with the highest regional rates of gestational and youth Type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to the research team.

The initiative is building community capacity to prevent T2D through “education and empowerment.”

The team worked with local physicians and community partners including Health Access Thorncliffe Park, The Neighbourhood Office, TDSB Newcomer Services, and Toronto Public Health’s ‘Into Kids Health’ program to help ensure messaging and education for prevention can be sustained.

“We are hoping the strong partnerships built through this project have lasting impact on at risk families and future generations,” says Amber.

“Winning the 'Build Community' award validates the community partners’ team efforts and encourages us to keep working together passionately for child and gestational diabetes prevention," she says. 

Photo Gallery: Click through to see photos from the Poster Expo

The day also included a learning achievement awards ceremony for team members of MGH who completed various graduate and post-graduate programs in 2019.

“Great hospitals have an appreciation of the diversity of programs that are offered – more than in one’s own program or department.  They also understand how we need strength across all programs in order to be great,” says Sarah. “EPIC gives us bite sized pieces of the many people and incredible expertise that comes to work every day to take to care of patients.”

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