This month, we sat down with Liz Buller, President and CEO of Scarborough Health Network (SHN) to learn more about her experience leading our hospitals through the COVID-19 pandemic. Liz joined SHN in July 2017 with over 30 years of health care experience and an extensive background in health care leadership.
1. Scarborough was one of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods in the GTA for COVID-19. How would you say SHN has tackled that challenge?
COVID-19 brought unprecedented challenges to Scarborough and around the world. However, I am so deeply proud of our admirable doctors and staff, who are continuing their courageous work to keep us all safe. Throughout the pandemic, our expert teams rallied together to protect our hospitals and patients, ensuring the safest infection prevention and control protocols, effective rationing of PPE, and enhanced cleaning strategies.
Since March, SHN increased options for high-quality virtual care to ensure as many people as possible could access health care when they needed it. We took the lead in bringing COVID-19 testing into the community, increasing access and relieving pressure on our emergency departments. Our teams also stepped up to support long-term care homes across Scarborough, providing consultation and on-site assistance and helping two residences overcome major COVID-19 outbreaks.
2. Beyond delivering exceptional health care, how have SHN's frontline workers impressed you?
Our doctors, nurses, and clinicians have gone above and beyond the role of a health care worker during COVID-19. Across our network, our teams put patients first, whether on the frontlines or behind the scenes – they’ve worked longer shifts, volunteered to go into high risk settings to help care for our more vulnerable populations, and some have even spent time away from families to keep their families safe from potential spread. I’m truly honoured to be a part of our SHN family. Their compassionate, courageous spirits mean they are the first to run toward a crisis and see how they can help.
3. What do you think makes the Scarborough community so special?
This is such a vibrant and unique community. Whether in health care, arts, sports, culture, food, business, and design, we celebrate excellence here whenever we can.
I’m most inspired by the people who live here. This community is dedicated to preserving Scarborough’s storied history, while at the same time, working to create new opportunities. For example, our friends at the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization are changing the face of Scarborough as we know it, shifting away from the old, underdog narrative, and uniting together to realize exciting, bold visions for renewal.
We’re privileged to play a role in that mission, as we work to establish world-class health care right here in Scarborough. We believe strongly that, in Scarborough, the incredible is possible. That’s pretty special.
4. What role do our donors and community members have to play in the future of Scarborough Health Network?
We are so proud to work alongside a growing community of supporters and partners from Scarborough and beyond to ensure that our hospitals are serving the best possible health care to our community. This support has long played a substantial part in our ability to move health care forward for our patients – even most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams could not have done it without the generous support we received for our Emergency Fund and Help Our Heroes PPE Drive.
As SHN continues in its journey to becoming Canada's leading community teaching health network, our generous donors and greater community will continue to play an integral role in helping us evolve into an even better health network for future generations of patients and families. Our hospitals have a bright future ahead, but it is only with the support of these donors and residents that we will realize our full potential.
5. SHN's vision is "shaping the future of care" - how would you say our Scarborough hospitals are working to make that happen?
Right now, SHN is adapting to changes in the health care environment brought on by COVID-19. We are forging a new path as we reopen our Network’s services in a way that accommodates new safety measures and protocols. On top of finding new ways of providing care inside and outside of our hospitals, SHN is proactively shaping care in Scarborough by educating our population and helping our partners in long-term care and the business community as they find a new way of operating safely and effectively.
Although this pandemic sometimes feels everlasting, when you are committed to a vision of “shaping the future of care” as we are, you have to also be looking beyond this to longer-term transformations, like Clinical Services Planning. This involves a comprehensive review of SHN’s clinical programs, the needs of our community, and our changing health care landscape — with the goal of finding the best way to deliver services that meets Scarborough’s health needs now, and in the coming years.