The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the boundaries of our resilience, resolve and capacity for compassion, proving that, together, we are Osler Strong.

'Osler Strong'

The emergence of COVID-19 marked an unforgettable end to 2019-20 and revealed just how strong we are when we stand together at Osler.

In those early January days, we knew it as 2019-n-CoV, but by mid-February, under the directive of the World Health Organization, the name had officially changed to COVID-19. Today, it's hard to remember a time before COVID-19.

Osler's response to the crisis was strong and swift. Every unit and team across our organization stepped up and, working with our partners in health care, accomplished more than we ever imagined possible in just 10 weeks.

We immediately started screening patients and staff, expanding and adapting the criteria quickly as new information about the virus developed, sometimes by the hour.

With our government partners, we opened not one but two assessment centres – the first at Peel Memorial Centre on March 11 and the second at Etobicoke General on March 30 – testing thousands of people for COVID-19. In mid-March, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), we began redeploying staff to areas, including the Assessment Centres, where they were most needed to help respond to the health care crisis.

On March 18, we made the difficult but necessary decision to implement a No Visitor policy to help ensure the safety of our patients, staff, physicians, volunteers and community. Then we quickly rolled out a virtual visitation program to help patients stay connected with their loved ones.

Every step of the way, we followed, and continue to adhere to, the advice of experts on proper Personal Protective Equipment for staff, physicians and patients acting with an abundance of caution to ensure we have the right and necessary supplies to keep everyone safe.

On March 26, when we lost our first patient to COVID-19, we mourned this loss together, leaned on one another, and kept going. Our work was not done. We also took time to celebrate the patients who, with our support, recovered and went home to their families. These bright spots remind us of our purpose and why we do what we do.

We closed out 2019-20 – perhaps the most difficult in our history – with a new mantra that captures the Osler spirit, inspiring and uniting us as we face this and other challenges moving forward, Osler Strong.