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Inside this edition:

  • Walter’s inspiring journey of healing after a stroke, with the help of our new Community Stroke Rehab program
  • Understanding ongoing hospital capacity challenges and how we’re responding
  • Exploring our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a recipient of the 2024 Canadian College of Health Leaders Excellence in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Award
  • How to beat the heat this summer with tips from one of our Emergency doctors
  • Our Community Report for the 2023/24 fiscal year
  • An announcement from the Minister of Health regarding Mackenzie Health’s President and CEO, Altaf Stationwala


Surrounded by support: bringing stroke rehabilitation closer to home

Walter (pictured left above) is committed to his stroke recovery with the help of his occupational therapist Meagan (right) and the team at the newly opened York Region Community Stroke Rehabilitation Clinic.

In the first few days after experiencing a stroke, the reality of the life-changing challenges ahead set in for Walter Cimini. “The fear of the unknown was tremendous,” he says. “The first day, I couldn’t touch my hand to my face. It was the scariest feeling.”

After six weeks of inpatient rehabilitation at the Sorbara Integrated Stroke Unit at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, Walter learned he would be one of the first patients referred to Mackenzie Health’s newly opened Community Stroke Rehab Clinic at 955 Major Mackenzie Drive. As he began a 10-week program including appointments three times per week, Walter was grateful that the new location was just a short drive from where he lives.

Funded by the Ministry of Health, the clinic is the first of its kind in the region, filling a longstanding gap in care. Previously, patients coming out of hospital in York Region were referred to programs in Toronto or Newmarket, where they often waited weeks to months to access services. 

“Increasing local access to outpatient stroke rehab is significant because within the first year, you want to do as much as you can to regain cognitive and physical function,” says Anna Sewell, York District Stroke Co-ordinator at Mackenzie Health.

Along with the clinic’s location, its individualized approach to rehabilitation is also an added plus. “We provide patients with in-person, virtual and community offerings,” says Anna. These include organized cooking classes to help patients re-learn necessary day-to-day duties, as well as activities to support reintegration back into the community, such as going shopping or to the bank.

While it hasn’t been easy, Walter attributes his successful recovery thus far to the support of the people surrounding him, including the rehabilitation team. You can read more about Walter and his inspiring story by visiting the Patient Stories page.


Our commitment to providing excellent care in a time of great need

While we are thankful to have another cold, flu and COVID-19 season behind us, we continue to face different challenges. There has been a surge in Emergency Department visits across the province, a trend we’re seeing across both of our hospital sites.  

Monthly Emergency Department visits have increased at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital and Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital by 6% and 11% respectively since last year, with 600 to 700 patients a month seen between both hospitals and the Urgent Care Centre.

The increase in people seeking care can be attributed to several factors. More than 20 per cent of patients come to our Emergency Department from outside of western York Region and many do not have a family doctor. We’ve also seen an increase in patients who are sicker, with more needing to be admitted, creating capacity challenges.

To help manage, we’ve opened additional surge spaces, including using a medical imaging bay as an area for additional inpatient beds when necessary. We have also expanded our Family Health Navigation Clinic, which is now open five days a week. Introduced in October 2023, the clinic offers compassionate, comprehensive, timely and patient-centered care with a shared goal of helping our patients to connect with a family doctor and/or other specialist needed within our community for follow up.

Despite the challenges we are facing, we remain committed to finding solutions and providing the best quality care as quickly as possible.


The importance of diversity and inclusion at Mackenzie Health

Members of the Inclusion and Diversity Committee at Mackenzie Health.

We are proud to have received the 2024 Excellence in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Award from the Canadian College of Health Leaders, a national non-profit association of health leaders and corporate, academic and organizational partners.

This award recognizes us as a forward-thinking health care organization that has demonstrated leadership in creating and promoting inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility to improve the environment for our employees and to better serve our patients and the community.

Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is integral to our mission as health care providers. This begins with diversity, equity and inclusion strategies at the core of our recruitment efforts. As a result, we're proud to have a team that reflects our diverse community and a culture that encourages learning from each other to provide excellent care and service.

We have an Inclusion and Diversity Committee that informs and influences this work across Mackenzie Health, including integrating equity, diversity and inclusion education into our onboarding and orientation process. The committee also facilitates foundational learning programs for staff and physicians on topics such as unconscious bias, allyship, inclusive language and belonging, in addition to sharing monthly email communication and resources.

As our organization continues to grow, we continue to build upon our efforts, ensuring that all of the programs and initiatives we put in place help us provide a safe and welcoming environment for our staff, physicians, volunteers, patients and visitors.


Heat-related illness: Know what to look for and how to treat it

Last year was the hottest summer on record in the Northern Hemisphere and Environment Canada is forecasting this May through July to be warmer than average. With hot weather comes the risk of heat-related illness, especially for people with chronic illness, older adults, infants and young children.

Dr. Amin from our emergency department shares tips on how to avoid heat-related illness, identifying how to distinguish between heat exhaustion, which can be treated at home and heat stroke, which requires medical attention. Take a look at the video.


Highlights from the 2023/24 fiscal year

Our annual community report highlights our key accomplishments and milestones from the 2023-2024 fiscal year. These include celebrating six decades of caring for our community, introducing a number of new programs and services and raising more than $19.7 million to support our two hospitals and network of community-based locations – all while managing significant capacity pressures. We’ve achieved so much and we're proud of the numerous accolades we have received this past year.

To learn more, read the full report here.


Mackenzie Health President and CEO appointed supervisor for Renfrew Victoria Hospital 

The Minister of Health has appointed Mackenzie Health’s President and CEO, Altaf Stationwala, as a supervisor for Renfrew Victoria Hospital effective July 8, 2024.

Earlier today it was announced that the Minister of Health has appointed Mackenzie Health’s President and CEO, Altaf Stationwala, as a supervisor for Renfrew Victoria Hospital. The government will at times appoint a supervisor when it is in the public interest to do so, to help address hospital issues. Altaf’s role as supervisor will begin July 8.

Maintaining continuity across our two hospitals and community-based locations during this time is a priority. During the temporary appointment, Altaf will continue as President and CEO of Mackenzie Health. He will delegate authority and duties as required to members of our highly skilled and experienced Executive Leadership Team to ensure we sustain the high-quality care and experience our community expects from us. Operations and strategic priorities at Mackenzie Health will not be interrupted or impacted as a result of this appointment.

Mackenzie Health, the Board of Directors and Altaf are committed to assisting the system in this way and appreciate the Ministry’s utmost confidence in Altaf to provide this support.





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