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Healthcare Change Makers

Oct 5, 2021

Today we’re talking with Dr. Tim Rutledge, President and CEO of Unity Health Toronto. Tim was previously President and CEO of North York General Hospital.

Tim is a physician, trained in Emergency Medicine. He developed a strong interest in medical education early in his career and chaired the committee that developed the University of Toronto’s first undergraduate course in Emergency Medicine.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, Unity Health put a strong emphasis on caring for and vaccinating people experiencing homelessness and Indigenous populations. Tim’s own journey of leading the hospital during this turbulent time has led him to a new understanding of the lessons of anti-racism, equity and social accountability.

A big part of Tim’s life – and one of the important ways he unwinds – is through music. He discovered his love of playing at the piano as a young man and he now plays and records on several instruments. Healthcare and leadership are of course his central preoccupations but coming back to his music always gives Tim a feeling of joy and fulfillment.



“One of the most important attributes in my experience of an effective leader is the ability to listen. I mean capital ‘L’ listen. Listen to truly understand the issues.” – TR

“COVID has really put into stark relief the fact that there was a disproportionate impact on vulnerable and racialized populations. It really has highlighted that equity is a key dimension of quality in healthcare. It’s a major focus here at Unity and for me personally.” – TR

“We need to recognize that we all have blindspots, as individuals and within our organizations. This is something we’re going to have to put a lot of work into.” – TR

“I think the most important thing we’ve been focussing on the last year or so is making sure that people have some time to unplug. We’ve been trying to be disciplined about that as well.” – TR

“In Ontario we have fewer acute care beds per population than any other province, and fewer beds than any other country in the world. We’re tied at the bottom with Mexico at 1.4 beds per thousand.” – TR

“The power of the perspectives we get from our patients is not to be underestimated. Our patients are continually giving us great advice on how we can improve the care experience.” – TR

“What we really need to focus on in the future healthcare provider is the human aspect. The clinician-patient relationship, connecting with patients in a way that optimizes their care and optimizes their experience. Plan for the many, deliver to the one.” – TR


Mentioned in this Episode:

North York General Hospital

Unity Health Toronto

Clay Christensen

Donald Berwick

Eric Topol



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