QCH's main entrance during a sunrise


Two years later: compassion, commitment, quality care 

 Andrew Falconer  Ken Alger

Dr. Andrew Falconer

President & CEO

Ken Alger
Board Chair

COVID-19 has now been a two-year journey, and we've put on far more miles than we would ever have expected. Our commitment to our community has demanded every ounce of strength - and forced us to see what we were really made of.


Our team has stepped up again and again. We see it every day in a hundred ways: extra shifts, extra workloads, managers putting on scrubs for the first time in years. The team has faced significant staffing shortages, new roles, new fears and constant, continual change. They found creative solutions and never wavered from their commitment to our patients, our community, and each other.

In the midst of all this, the teams also successfully implemented a complex digital health records to modernize and improve patient care.

It is truly an honour and a privilege to have witnessed their resilience, compassion and commitment.

As a hospital, as a community, and as a health system, we need to look at how we responded to the challenges of the pandemic - but also to look ahead to how we recover and rebuild. We have an incredibly strong team and

supportive community, which makes us optimistic for the future.



group of QCH staff wearing QCH Strong shirts 


A daughter’s gratitude: restoring her mother’s quality of life

Sandhya and her mother Vrinda
When people talk about the amount of effort and care involved in supporting someone, the phrase "it takes a village" is often used - whether that someone is a first-time parent, a student entering post-secondary school in a challenging field, or a patient navigating a complex diagnosis. That village can be anyone: teachers, family and friends, healthcare workers - they all leave their impact.

Sandhya's mother Vrinda was admitted to QCH last summer and spent 7 months receiving care as the clinical team determined her diagnosis: a vascular event, vascular dementia and late onset schizophrenia. Vrinda's village left an impact.

During that time Sandhya and Vrinda met Christine Cook, a Behaviour Support Ontario (BSO) RN on our Geriatric team - and part of Vrinda's village: "Put succinctly, Christine Cook is the key reason for my mother having a quality of life with stability in a place where she is well cared for and for my remaining stable and sane. That is no exaggeration and is simple fact. Christine provided above and beyond - my words cannot begin to describe how important and stabilizing for us Christine was. I will try."

The care, knowledge and comfort healthcare workers provide can often make a lasting impact not only on their patients, but the patient's caregivers and loved ones as well. Sandhya experienced this firsthand with Christine and the geriatric team, especially when they were navigating the best next steps for her mother's care.

"I simply could not have mentally survived the regular 'active advocacy' I had to do if not for Christine. I do not say that lightly, I would not have stayed sane, or would have had another health crisis without Christine. She saved me; I'm my mother's PoA and primary caregiver. The repercussions would have been more than my mother and me, however, as so many others rely on me. Her actions literally kept 6 of us out of needing to use the health care system."

"She listened. Truly listened. She was like this bright lighthouse of information to us when so much was foggy or unclear to us. When obstacles presented themselves, she found ways to subtly proceed and progress."

Sandhya's letter ends with this: one sentence encompassing months of care, compassion and hope.


"My mother is stable and happy and ready to continue the long life her parents had - and that is because of Christine."

COVID-19: the second year

Nurses wearing QCH strong shirts

The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was a year of sprints; this last year was a marathon.

In the first year of COVID, the hospital was constantly pivoting – rapidly opening a testing centre, establishing a second ICU, converting a hotel into an inpatient unit, stepping in to support a long-term care home in crisis. However, it was this last year that truly tested the resilience and endurance of the amazing people that make up Queensway Carleton Hospital.

Staff operated an additional 92 beds on top of our normal 273, while also running a testing centre and a vaccine clinic. Team QCH rose to every challenge, pivoting and responding to ensure our patients received the best possible care. They are truly remarkable human beings, and we are so thankful for their commitment to this community and to each other.

COVID-19 has, and continues to, change healthcare. As we move forward as a hospital, as a team and as a community, we will take what we’ve learned and use it to ensure we come out stronger, together.


Healthcare workers: our most critical resource

Given demographic realities and workload demands, every health system in Canada struggles to meet its staffing needs. Hospitals in the broader Ottawa region report having more than 700 nursing vacancies. COVID has upended lives for healthcare workers and has made an already tenuous nursing situation even more challenging.

Recruitment and retention have become a top priority. QCH has hired over 1,000 additional staff since the pandemic began to provide more support to the clinical team and reduce overtime or extended shifts. QCH added more wellness and mental health resources, is implementing new relief and workload coverage models, and has been working to find ways to make people’s days a bit brighter. Education and training have been increased to retain existing staff.

Despite our efforts, staffing issues continue, as workload and weariness take their toll. And yet – through that – Team QCH answered the call. Extra workload, extra shifts, extra patients. Their commitment has been extraordinary.


Patients with COVID-19

QCH saw more patients with COVID-19 in the second year of the pandemic than the first – a total of 12,059 patient days.

During the Delta wave, patients were much sicker, requiring more complex care and longer hospital stays. Staff across the hospital were redeployed to support our ICU and COVID units, some relearning skills from years past. QCH also admitted patients from the Greater Toronto Area and Manitoba, where the volume of patients exceeded their bed and staffing capacity.

During Omicron’s peak, QCH reached a record high of 82 admitted patients with COVID-19 in one day - 70% of the hospital’s medicine beds. The Omicron wave hit staffing the hardest, resulting in a temporary Internal Code Orange to be called as staffing, capacity and operational pressures increased.


Like previous waves, everyone was called to help, with multiple clinical leadership staff putting scrubs back on for the first time in years to help take care of patients.


Emergency Department steps up

ED staff working

The Emergency Department has seen an increase in the volume of patients, in the acuity and in staffing pressures. The team continuously adapted to meet the needs of their patients. They redesigned their department to improve patient flow and safety and partnered with the Ottawa Paramedic Services to care for more patients.

Over the past year, QCH has helped over 80,000 patients in our ED. Since the hospital was more than 100% full most of the time, more than 3,500 patient days were spent overnight in ED while waiting for an inpatient bed. This isn't ideal - no one wants to practice hallway medicine - but the hospital continues to look for innovative ways to provide care to those in need.

Tremendous efforts of ICU

ICU staff gathered in a patient room

Even in normal times, the ICU is a challenging unit in which to work. You see patients and families at their most difficult time.

For those who are not in the ICU seeing the impact of COVID-19, it can be difficult to grasp the intensity of the virus on the body. Delta was the hardest wave for our ICU team, with the highest ICU occupancy the team had ever faced. A secondary ICU was created to support patients who did not require ventilation. Five new permeant beds were added to the unit. Additional ICU space was created through the efforts of our perioperative team, who pivoted to caring for ICU patients at different points during the pandemic.

Despite every effort, and a skilled clinical team that really cares, some patients did not recover from COVID-19. Every person in our care matters deeply. Every loss is felt, as professionals and as humans. We are proud of our ICU team for the care and compassion they provided to every patient and family, and the strength they showed during this challenging time.

The impact to surgery

PACU nurses

When COVID-19 first hit in March 2020, a lot was shut down, including non-urgent surgeries. Cases were reviewed, surgeries were postponed and, unfortunately, patients had to wait.

During the first and second waves, the perioperative program staff were redeployed to a variety of areas: ICU, ED, inpatient units, testing in long-term and retirement homes. They supported a secondary ICU. They stepped up to the plate for their peers, our patients, and our community. It was challenging, but they provided great care.

In May 2021, we started ramping up surgeries again, with staffing to support about 70 - 80% of our pre-COVID surgical volumes. We were able to slow the growth of the backlog. Then came Omicron. There was a new provincial Directive 2 to again cease non-urgent surgeries. The perioperative and surgical teams united, creating an overload Med/Surg Unit in their Day Surgery area within 48 hours. They continued to support their surgical program, and the hospital around them.

Fast-forward to today. QCH faces a surgical backlog of 5,800 elective main OR procedures. We are implementing a surgery recovery plan to increase OR capacity, tackle the backlog and get patients the procedures they need. As part of this, we are actively onboarding nurses with specialized skills and training staff. Unfortunately, there is a nationwide shortage of staff with these specialized skills and, as a result, our ORs are currently running at 60% capacity. In September, we will increase our capacity to 70% at minimum, possibly more as staffing allows. By November we plan to be at 90% capacity.

Every wave had an impact on patients. We see it. We appreciate the waiting is hard. Our team is now focused on what they do best – and moving forward caring for each surgical patient, one at a time, each patient the center of all we do. Thank you for your patience and support.


Expanding Fairfield

Fairfield staff set up new bed

At the beginning of 2021, a second floor was added to our offsite inpatient unit at Fairfield Inn & Suites to further increase hospital capacity. The hotel-turned-hospital has been caring for patients since it opened in April 2020, offering a safe and secure space for patients – while supporting the main site by adding additional bed capacity.


QCH opens vaccine clinic

a child gets his first COVID-19 vaccine at QCH

In March 2021, QCH opened a vaccine clinic onsite to support the regional vaccine rollout and was part of multiple vaccine strike teams in retirement and long-term care homes across Ottawa. When children became eligible for the vaccine last winter, QCH’s vaccine clinic pivoted to give Ottawa’s youngest residents their first doses.


QCH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic administered over 62,000 doses before closing in January 2022.



Testing, testing: Moodie COVID-19 Care Centre

Moodie team gathered in the clinic posing for a photoThe Moodie COVID-19 Care & Testing Centre, which is operated by QCH and opened within weeks in March 2020, continually expands and contracts based on the demand for testing and provincial direction. By the fall of 2021, the demand for testing rose again. The Moodie team expanded their hours, temporarily working weekends over the winter to meet it. Additionally, to help with higher ED volumes, Moodie partnered with the Ottawa Paramedic Service to divert low-acuity COVID-19 patients from Emergency and provide care at the clinic.

To date, the Moodie team has cared for and tested over 150,000 patients.



Improvements & Accomplishments

There is a lot to be proud of at QCH - particularly, the things Team QCH has advanced or accomplished to ensure the care our patients receive is the quality care they need. Over the past year, in addition to responding to the pandemic, Team QCH has formed partnerships with health organizations across the region to better coordinate care, further integrated technology into the care we provide, and expanded the virtual care we offer, highlighted below.


Ottawa West Four Rivers logo

QCH and partners form new Ontario Health Team

QCH has formed a new Ontario Health Team (OHT) with 60 partners from the Arnprior, North Grenville, Carleton Place, Almonte and West Ottawa regions. OHTs, being formed across the province, are teams of health and community service providers that are accountable for delivering coordinated care to a defined geographic population.

The goal of the new Ottawa West Four Rivers OHT is to help people more easily get the right care, at the right time. Initially, the OHT will focus on transforming mental health and addictions services, putting the person's needs first.


Using technology to improve patient safety 

In the midst of the pandemic, another huge step in QCH’s Connected Care project successfully went live after years of preparations. Connected Care further integrates technology into healthcare, from how we send and receive patient information to reducing the risk of medication error.

The timing wasn't ideal, but the pandemic has taught us many things, including the importance of having a connected electronic health records system - one that provides vital decision-making information to all members of the care team to improve patient safety and quality of care.


dinosaur with pharmacy staff

Improving medication administration

QCH finished rolling out Automatic Dispensing Cabinets (ADC) to all inpatient units last fall. ADCs enhance access to medications, improve dosing accuracy and timing, and provide real-time inventory control.


Technology improves surgical booking

QCH launched Novari, a surgical waitlist and eBooking module that will be used by the Operating Rooms and Endoscopy program. For staff, this means requests from surgeons' offices are now booked electronically into our health record system directly, providing instant access to wait time information and reducing possible errors. For patients, this means informed choice regarding place of surgery, reducing wait times, and improved access to surgery.

Bringing us out of the stone age

Some of our physicians joked that patient charting hadn't changed seen they were in medical school - "back in the stone age". When we implemented Connected Care, we replaced paper orders and charts with technology. So of course, we had some fun with that - escaping the stone age. The week before Connected Care went live, our Chief Information Officer Tim Pemberton went on a dino walk across the hospital, much to the amusement of Team QCH.


Improvise, adapt, overcome: ED achievements

Our Emergency Department continues to make improvements to patient care, including the redesign of Resuscitation, increased security, and improved efficiency. The redesign includes a negative pressure room, which filters air particles. The ED "Let's C Patients" initiative works to decrease wait times in the Cubicle C area, where we care for patients with less complex conditions.

qch staff with Ottawa Paramedic

QCH partners with Ottawa Paramedic Service to help patients at home

QCH and the Ottawa Paramedic Service partnered on a pilot program that refers eligible patients to the Ottawa Paramedic Service for post-discharge care at home. Since then, over 600 patients have been transferred to the Community Paramedic Long-Term Care (CPLTC) Program - with promising results. This program provides services to individuals waiting for placement in long-term care homes, including preventative and responsive care. Supporting patients at home helps prevent readmission and promotes earlier hospital discharges while freeing up beds for those in need of care.

emergency department staff with paramedics outside QCH's emergency department

Teaming up with Ottawa Paramedics to support Emergency Department patients

QCH has added paramedics from Ottawa Paramedic Service into its ED where they monitor up to 3 patients at the hospital, alongside the QCH team.


This initiative helps with capacity in the Emergency Department and helps ensure paramedics can respond to calls quickly. It helps provide patients with the quality care they need when they need it, both in the hospital and in the community.


Embedding diversity, equity and inclusion into QCH

QCH is made up of skilled and compassionate healthcare workers - but bias is human. We recognize that systematic racism exists here at QCH like it does in our community - and we are committed to doing better. We will continue to learn more and to do more to ensure QCH is a safe and compassionate environment for everyone.

We have embedded Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as part of our hospital strategy, and have become a partner organization with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.

Work has started to build a better understanding of Indigenous culture, including QCH partnering with the Ottawa Aboriginal Council to develop an Indigenous healing practices policy, with considerations for health equity and the inclusion of traditional medicine. We introduced a new smudging procedural document which has already been used several times. Despite staffing shortages, over 160 staff members across the hospital completed specialized Indigenous Cultural Safety training, with more to come.

Virtual care expanding access to care at QCH

Virtual care was introduced during the pandemic and continues to be rolled out in various areas across QCH, including Mental Health, Outpatient Rehabilitation, our offsite Geriatric Day hospital, and our Chronic Disease Management and Skin and Soft Tissue clinics. QCH expanded to offering almost 50% virtual care in these areas, resulting in positive patient satisfaction. A virtual post-surgical recovery program is also being piloted for certain surgeries, allowing these patients to recover comfortably from home with virtual support from their care team. Virtual care will continue to expand at QCH as we work on a strategy for further. future implementation as part of our work towards a virtual first philosophy.

Big upgrade for medical imaging

QCH has upgraded its Medical Imaging and picture archiving software. Patients will benefit from state-of-the-art technology and the best possible imaging for their care, including 3D imaging on our new Mammography equipment. This will also improve Radiologist workflow and manage system failures without impacting clinicians.

Geriatric training receives record number of enrolments

Despite the pandemic, a record 72 more QCH nurses completed the specialized NICHE Geriatric Resource Nurse training course - a real testament to their commitment to continually improve care. This course provides our nurses access to the same training offered to some of the world's top geriatric hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and UCLA Health System.

QCH opens Level 2 ICU

Last fall, QCH opened 2-3 beds on a level 2 ICU to support patients that require very close monitoring for a short term, such as those with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) or on CiWa (alcohol withdrawal support).

Former patients and family members improving the patient experience

QCH’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) team is involved in numerous initiatives across the hospital that focus on improving the patient and family experience. PFAC provides observations and suggestions that are not always seen by health professionals, making their contributions essential to improving care. They've been involved with the electronic Patient Portal, the hospital's pandemic response and hospital renovations, among many other projects.

Health Records Team applies teamwork & technology to get data online faster

QCH health records team

Our Health Records Team has improved the turnaround of patient care documentation and provides up-to-date data to support clinical decisions. Inpatient charts are now online within 48 hours post-discharge, and clinic and ED visits are online within 24 hours.

QCH achieves Meritorious Status award 

The American College of Surgeons has recognized QCH as one of only 90 hospitals in the world to achieve "meritorious outcomes" for our outstanding quality in surgical patient care last year. This puts us in the top 15% of participating hospitals globally. To achieve "Meritorious" status, we had to meet certain outcomes in areas such as mortality, cardiac (cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction), pneumonia, unplanned intubation, ventilator (less than 48 hours), renal failure, SSI (superficial incisional SSI, deep incisional SSI, and organ/space) and UTI (urinary tract infection).


QCH ranked World's Best Hospitals

Queensway Carleton Hospital has been ranked among the world's best hospitals in Newsweek Magazine's 'World's Best Hospitals' 2022. Queensway Carleton Hospital ranked 19th across all of Canada on a list that includes international institutions like the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Cleveland Clinic. The same list has Canadian hospitals such as Toronto General Hospital, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and Montreal General Hospital.

QCH maintains NICHE Exemplar Status

QCH officially upheld our exemplary status from Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE), the highest level of recognition for a hospital. This status was accomplished through the work of our geriatric teams and the quality care they provide to our older patients that effectively meets their needs.


geriatric clinical team at QCH

The humans of QCH

Team QCH is made up of over 3,000 people, with many departments working together to make QCH the caring hospital it is today. Check out some of the teams and people that make up Team QCH.


QCH Foundation thanks you

foundation donor photos



For more than two years we have been up against some seemingly insurmountable obstacles and faced extraordinary challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our strength and resiliency, but today there is a renewed sense of hope that we have made it through the most difficult of moments, and now it’s time to look to the future.

Thanks to the generosity of our long-standing donors, new supporters, corporate partners and businesses, community groups, schools, and many more organizations and clubs, QCH Foundation recorded strong fundraising results to close out our fiscal year on March 31, 2022. With tremendous support from the community and our QCH family, we raised more than $5.8 million. These results punctuate a five-year trend of consistently raising $5 million for Queensway Carleton Hospital. Through the pandemic, our community has continued to rally around our beloved hospital, showing immense gratitude to the team for their herculean efforts.

Even though we were focused on navigating the ever-changing world of COVID-19, we realized some remarkable moments that should be noted, and celebrated. Together, with our donors, we distributed more than $4.6M to QCH to assist with the purchase of vital equipment and upgrades to the surgical suites, along with other top hospital priorities.


It is with immense gratitude that we share our annual Donor Impact Report. We invite you to read the full impact of your generosity by visiting qchfoundation.ca/report.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the team at QCH, we humbly thank our community of donors for their unwavering support. Your kindness and compassion continues to be a shining light and beacon of hope. By working together, we are championing local healthcare and ensuring our loved ones have access to world-class care, close to home.

With gratitude,


Shannon Gorman

President & CEO, Foundation


Ronald Richardson

Board Chair, QCH Foundation 

Report from the QCH Board

As a Board, we could not be more inspired by the resilience of the hospital and our community after two years responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last year, we have worked to support the hospital and its leadership through various challenges, particularly the staffing shortages and fatigue felt across the organization. We are proud of what they accomplished and the improvements they have made despite the obstacles they faced.

Some of the Board’s work in support of the hospital and the community includes:

  • Strategic Planning: We worked with the hospital to modify the strategy planning approach with a focus on stabilizing the organization while moving forward on quality goals at a measured pace.
  • Ontario Health Team: We worked with the hospital through the approvals with the Ministry of Health to officially form the Ottawa West Four Rivers Health Team -- a collaboration of over 60 health system partners from the Arnprior, North Grenville, Carleton Place, Almonte and West Ottawa regions.
  • Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI): We support and guide the hospital in its DEI journey, increasing our focus in this key area. We are thankful to have started the year with an education session from the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, and for a new partnership with The Canadian Center for Diversity & Inclusion. DEI continues to be a key consideration in Board membership to ensure we properly reflect the diversity of our community.
  • Strengthening Board committees: We have brought three new Community Members on Board committees – building additional strength and diversity of opinion. We have also streamlined Board meetings and reporting to focus better on key risks, opportunities, and governance responsibilities.
  • Financial oversight: The pandemic also created financial challenges and ambiguities, with the hospital adding the Fairfield in-patient unit and Moodie Testing and Care Center, and other atypical expenses. The Board oversaw the difficult financial period and worked with management to ensure financial stability.

The hospital’s greatest risks are inter-related: bed capacity and staffing shortages. It is a daily challenge for the organization to ensure it has enough beds and enough staff to deliver the high-quality care that is its hallmark. Two years of pandemic have exasperated the already-challenging situation. We thank the staff and physicians of QCH for their commitment to this community and each other.

As Ontario moves past the election and through the pandemic recovery period, we anticipate there being much reflection on the health system, and substantive change. The Board will closely monitor the evolving landscape and advocate for this hospital and the community it serves.

QCH selfies in hospital hallway