University of Toronto
University of Maryland - Shock Trauma Institute, Baltimore
Donna trained in General Surgery at the University of Toronto after completing a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences. During her surgical training, she obtained a Master's of Science at the Institute of Medical Science. She did a fellowship in Trauma at the Shock Trauma Institute at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, then a second fellowship in Critical Care at the Harvard program in Boston. After returning to Toronto, Donna was a General Surgeon, Trauma Surgeon and Intensivist at St. Michael's Hospital for six years before coming to our hospital in 2000.
HealthConnection, Spring 2009
A Vision for Excellence
Since 2000, Dr. Donna McRitchie has been leading significant initiatives to provide critically ill patients and their families with the very best care at North York General Hospital.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario presented her with the prestigious Council Award in 2006. It honours outstanding Ontario physicians who
have demonstrated excellence and come closest to meeting society’s vision of an “ideal” physician.
As Medical Director of Critical Care, Dr. McRitchie oversees our state-of-the-art 19-bed combined Intensive Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit.
Her varied roles include being Division Head of General Surgery, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto, and Critical Care Lead for the Central Local Health Integration Network.
As well, in April 2008 she became Chair of our Medical Advisory Committee, a role more commonly known in other hospitals as “Chief of Staff.” After completing a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, Dr. McRitchie trained in General Surgery at the University of Toronto and also obtained a Master’s of Science at the Institute of Medical Science.
She then did a fellowship in trauma at the Shock Trauma Institute at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, followed by a fellowship in Critical Care at the Harvard program in Boston.
After six years at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. McRitchie was appointed Medical Director of Critical Care at North York General Hospital. “I love working in critical care and this was an exciting opportunity to develop the tremendous potential of the unit,” she says.
One of her first decisions was to change the model of care from an “open” Critical Care unit in which any hospital physician could admit patients and look after them — to a “closed” unit, led and operated by intensivists. These physicians have had critical care training in complex, life-threatening injuries and illnesses. “Based on research, we now know that an intensivist-led Critical Care unit is the best way to look after patients and improve quality of care.”
“Our goal has been to embrace innovation and become one of the premier community hospital Critical Care units. We’ve been a leader in developing best practices and participating in quality initiatives. We have a fantastic interdisciplinary team that works collaboratively towards shared goals. An important focus is helping families of critically ill patients work through difficult decisions about end of life care.”
Under her leadership, our Critical Care Response Team was launched in 2007 and has significantly improved care. It rapidly responds to calls from hospital staff by bringing expertise, medications and equipment to a patient’s bedside, providing timely intervention and support.
Dr. McRitchie is looking forward to the next initiative. Until now, we’ve had to move critically ill patients with renal failure to another hospital for dialysis. By summer 2009, our Critical Care nurses will be trained to provide dialysis to patients, broadening the unit’s ability to offer even more comprehensive care to patients in their community.