Terry Sim – Humber River Hospital
- Written by: Jason Pafundi
- Produced by: Liz Fallon & Patrick Rose
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
There are few guarantees in life, but aside from death and taxes, Terry Sim says you can always guarantee the need for more healthcare services as populations grow.
And that need is exactly what he’s dealing with now as the director of facilities and development for Humber River Hospital in one of the fastest-growing areas of Toronto.
“We’re a growing and dynamic organization, and we have to be to keep up with the demands of our growing community,” Sim says.
The organization is part of the public health system in Ontario, Canada, and serves a population as diverse as the community it calls home. More than 250 different ethnic groups are represented in Toronto, and 57 percent of the population belong to a visible minority group. Humber River Hospital is in the northeastern part of Toronto, about eight miles east of Pearson International Airport and about 20 miles from the CN Tower in the city’s downtown.
Since joining the organization in early 2001, Sim has helped design and implement the country’s first digital hospital, meaning technology, such as robotics, is used to enhance the patient experience. The acronym ICAT—information, communication, automation and technology—was coined by Sim and is a major part of the hospital’s operational philosophy.
“In implementing ICAT, our focus is always on making information readily available and easily accessible to those who need it in real time,” Sim says. “That includes doctors, nurses, patients and staff.”
Growing with the population
The Greater Metropolitan Toronto area has more than 6.2 million people, and Sim says there is a great need for more healthcare facilities to support the aging population—and the population growth expected soon.
“We need more long-term care beds, and we’re trying to meet the demand as best we can,” he says.
Right now, Sim and his team are overseeing the completion of a long-term care facility called Humber Meadows set to open in May 2023. Located at the Finch Reactivation Care Center, the 320-bed, six-floor facility is being built with a conventional design. There will be two interior courtyards that ensure each resident room gets abundant natural light.
The first floor, Sims says, will feature a great hall, beauty salon, private dining room for resident events, a dedicated spiritual space and six-chair dialysis unit. Each resident floor will have space for two residential units consisting of 32 long-term resident beds and its own dining room, lounge and activity area and a dedicated break room for each floor’s staff.
“We’re providing a home-like environment for every resident while ensuring high-quality care,” Sim says.
Improving the experience
Recently, Sim was presented with a question about what Humber River Hospital was planning on doing with its large collection of research files. There hadn’t been a lot of thought around the subject before, but now, plans are underway to create a long-term record storage space.
“In healthcare, records have been kept on paper and the law requires them being stored for 25 years, including lab slides and other pieces of information,” Sim says. “So, we’re addressing that and working on other parts of our long-term storage plans.”
Using technology is a big part of the operational plan for Humber River Hospital and its facilities. Implementing new tech not only helps the medical staff and the organization’s employees, but also improves the patient experience, he says.
The ICAT concept developed by Sim is being implemented in each building. He says it’s important now and for the future that he ensures the technology exists that can provide real-time information to stakeholders, seamless communication between parties and automated tasks when applicable. It also makes visiting the hospital a more patient-friendly experience, he says.
For example, a Command Centre concept being explored tries to address a patient’s entire healthcare needs in one visit. If a patient comes to the facility for a 10 a.m. appointment, there’s about two hours of care provided, Sim says. That can include blood tests, X-rays and other imaging, consultations or surgery preparation.
“It maximizes our resources and doesn’t leave a lot of downtime between events,” he says. “It also keeps a patient from having to commute back and forth multiple times for different appointments and procedures.”
The right fit
Sims was born on the west coast of Canada and always had a desire to create and build things. He moved across the country to Ontario in 1960 and earned a degree in electrical technology from Ryerson University in Toronto.
One of his first jobs was helping open a Sheraton hotel in Toronto. He then worked for Sheraton in the U.S. for several years before returning to Canada.
“Taking on a job in a different country away from family and friends is a unique experience, making you rely on yourself and test your personal limits while doing your job and setting up a life for yourself,” he says.
Back in Canada, Sim worked in construction, facilities and development for the services industry, which included helping build and open the Metropolitan Convention Center in Toronto. Then he worked for the government of Ontario in its facilities management department, where he mainly focused on hospitals and prisons. He joined Humber River Hospital in January 2001.
With more than 50 years of hard work in the facilities and development industry, Sim would like to put down his proverbial hard hat within the next two years.
“I’ve prepared my successor and am starting to look forward to the rest of my life,” he says. “I have had a great and fulfilling career and can’t wait for the next chapter.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2023 Edition here.
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