UHN and West Park integration about ‘building Canada’s leading rehabilitation ecosystem’

UHN and West Park Healthcare Centre have come together to form Canada’s most comprehensive and specialized rehabilitation and complex continuing care centre.

The voluntary integration between the two organizations, effective April 1, 2024, was approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health. It follows a rigorous, months-long application process, which included input from UHN and West Park employees, physicians, patients and caregivers, volunteers and community partners in stakeholder engagement such as focus groups, interviews and surveys.

“We’re delighted to welcome West Park to the UHN family,” says Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, who, along with the UHN Board of Directors, will lead the new unified organization.

“Integrated models of care, particularly for specialized and complex populations, will be vital to transforming our health care system and improving patient outcomes,” he says. “Together, we’re building Canada’s leading rehabilitation ecosystem, leveraging our research, education and clinical talent to support a vision of moving past the status quo, driving innovation, all in the name of exemplary patient care.”

An Integration Executive Committee, led by Joel Montesanti, Chief Integration Officer and UHN’s Director of Strategy, and featuring clinical and non-clinical leadership from both West Park and UHN, will oversee the process of bringing them together into a single unified health system.

West Park, located in the Jane St.-Weston Road area of Toronto’s west end, has a rich history of providing specialized rehabilitative and complex care to patients after life-altering illness or injury such as lung disease, amputation, stroke and traumatic musculoskeletal injuries.

West Park, which operates programs in Rehabilitation & Community Living, Complex Continuing Care and Long-Term Care, has about 1,000 employees, more than 40 staff physicians and 240 volunteers.

Over the first couple of weeks of April, West Park will be moving into a new state-of-the-art hospital.

In a joint Virtual Open Forum on March 20, Anne-Marie Malek, President & CEO of West Park, said the voluntary integration “will allow us to leverage each other’s expertise, resources and capabilities.”

“The goal is to create a best in the world specialized rehabilitation centre that will set the gold standard for rehab and research,” Anne-Marie, who retired on March 31, told the audience.

During the Virtual Open Forum, which was broadcast from Toronto General Hospital, Kevin paid tribute to Anne-Marie, who led West Park for nearly 29 years.

Kevin noted that during her tenure, Anne-Marie’s many accomplishments included leading the organization through two pandemics – SARS and COVID-19 – and the establishment of West Park as a provincial centre for excellence in long-term ventilation and provincial resource for tuberculosis.

She was also “the driving force behind the building of West Park’s new hospital and the creation of a true integrated campus of care,” Kevin said, adding with the Board, she led the pursuit of the voluntary integration with UHN to “create a broader vision of integrated complex rehabilitation and research, all to better patients and the quality of work life for the staff that you have been such a great advocate for.

“Anne-Marie, your legacy will live on for many, many years, not only for our broader community but for the staff you’ve championed so aggressively, for the patients you’re so dedicated to serving and the many families who I know you’ve worked personally with.

“Your impact will be felt for generations to come and we want to thank you for your outstanding service not only to West Park but to our whole Ontario health care system.”

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