Urgent and Emergent Support for Hospital-Based Physicians 1-800-668-4357 (HELP)


Urgent and Emergent Support for Hospital-Based Physicians

1-800-668-4357 (HELP)

New & Noteworthy

CritiCall Ontario Launched New Case Facilitation System

CritiCall Ontario’s provincial call centre implemented a new case facilitation system on October 5th, 2023. This marked the first phase in a multi-phase initiative focused on modernizing our call centre operations. This change allows for our call agents to better manage cases through a more streamlined and automated technology-based application, and to better identify and triage cases within CritiCall Ontario scope.

What is new

Questions asked order
We will continue to ask the physician/designate the same hospital and patient demographic questions at the outset of the call, however in a different order to assist our call agents to better identify and triage calls that are urgent/emergent and life or limb within CritiCall Ontario scope. Refer to the CritiCall Ontario Call Centre Support Guide (formerly our Physician Guide) for physicians/designates.

OHIP Validation
The new case facilitation system has been built to now integrate the patient’s OHIP number within our application. The call agent will follow a confirmation process that will automatically populate the patient’s name and birthdate.


Designates can continue to call in and provide hospital and patient demographics, however the referring physician will need to be available to connect with the consultant on-call.

CritiCall Ontario & CCSO Launch Modernized Critical Care Information System

CritiCall Ontario and Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO) are excited to announce that the new Critical Care Information System (CCIS) launched September 12, 2023!

As part of Ontario’s Critical Care Strategy, the Critical Care Information System (CCIS) captures data on every adult, paediatric and neonatal patient admitted to Level 3 and Level 2 critical care units in Ontario.

The modernized CCIS provides real-time capture of critical care capacity with improved features and user functionalities within a secure cloud-based environment. This project has automated data entry (wherever possible), through hospital Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Admission and Discharge messages.

New clinical data elements have also been added, based on feedback from hospitals that use the system.

Thank you to acute care hospitals across the province for collaborating with us and making this possible. Over 95 hospital technical teams across Ontario worked with us on system integration.

The system provides more accurate and timely data to inform the ongoing development and improvement of Ontario’s critical care system. The shift from manual data entry towards automated, real-time capture of critical care capacity reduces workload for hospital staff and the new expanded indicators will add value for planning and management of access, quality, and system integration for critical care.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the modernized CCIS, please contact:
CritiCall Ontario at ccistraining@criticall.org or CCSO at info@ccso.ca.

Ornge Announces Opening of New Critical Care Land Ambulance Base in Hamilton
New base will be co-located with CritiCall Ontario

June 27, 2023 – MISSISSAUGA — Ornge, Ontario’s provider of air ambulance and critical care transport services, is proud to announce the addition of a new, permanent Critical Care Land Ambulance (CCLA) base in Hamilton. The base of operations for Ornge critical care paramedics and land ambulances, opening later this year, will be a new resource to support the transport of critically ill individuals between hospitals in the Golden Horseshoe.
“This new base represents a significant investment in critical care patient transport services,” says Dr. Homer Tien, president and CEO of Ornge. “We are confident it will strengthen our ability to deliver the highest standard of care to the people of Hamilton and surrounding communities.”
The CCLA program relieves pressure on municipal land ambulance services, reduces the need for hospitals to provide escort staff for critical transfers and allows Ornge to increase air ambulance availability for outlying rural and remote areas. The Hamilton base will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week. This new facility adds to Ornge’s complement of CCLA bases across the province, including Mississauga, Peterborough, Ottawa, and as of fall 2022, Chatham-Kent. Each of these communities and regions has benefitted from having highly skilled paramedics and a dedicated land ambulance available daily.
The Hamilton base will be co-located with CritiCall Ontario, the province’s 24-hour-a-day emergency consultation and referral service for hospital-based physicians, at 1725 Upper James Street. The location offers advantages such as highway access so that Ornge can respond quickly to hospitals throughout the region.
“CritiCall Ontario, Hamilton Health Sciences and Ornge have been key partners in ensuring the safe, efficient movement of patients between hospitals, particularly during periods of surge,” says Rob MacIsaac, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, which is home to a number of regional critical care programs including trauma, burns, and cardiac. “Our experience over the past few years has strengthened the connections between our organizations and inspired increased collaboration around improving access to critical care services in Ontario.”
Construction will soon begin on a three-bay ambulance garage. The target opening date is this fall.

About Ornge
Ornge, a not-for-profit organization, co-ordinates all aspects of Ontario’s air ambulance system, the critical care land transport program and the authorization of air and land ambulance transfers between hospitals.

About CritiCall Ontario
CritiCall Ontario is a healthcare organization dedicated to supporting access to and delivery of urgent and emergent care within Ontario. Funded by the Ministry of Health and administered by Hamilton Health Sciences, CritiCall Ontario provides a variety of services to physicians, hospitals and other healthcare stakeholders with the goal of helping to ensure Ontario patients can access the urgent and emergent care they need as close to home as possible.

For more information, please contact:
Ornge Media Relations


New CritiCall Ontario Video!

In this short video Dr. Alun Ackery, our Provincial Medical Director and Martha Cousins, a member of our Client Relations and Communications team will tell you about what we do and how we collaborate with our stakeholders to help physicians and patients get the urgent/emergent care they need in Ontario.

It is an excellent source of information targeted to everyone who needs to understand what we do and how we do it, including new physicians, nurses and switchboard staff.

Please contact client.relations@criticall.org
if you would like to use this video for educational purposes or to learn more about CritiCall Ontario.

CritiCall Ontario Announces New Provincial Medical Director

CritiCall Ontario is pleased to announce Dr. Alun Ackery as the new Provincial Medical Director for CritiCall Ontario.

Dr. Ackery brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is currently the Deputy Chief of Emergency Medicine and the Medical Director for Information
and Technology at St. Michael’s Hospital where he leads the Virtual Emergency Department in collaboration with Unity Health. He also holds positions with Ornge Air Ambulance as a Transport Physician and joined CritiCall Ontario in 2021 as an Associate Medical Director.

His passion for innovation, including the role of artificial intelligence in predictive health care planning, has led him to collaborate with many partners, including Apple where he helped consult on technology for improved patient experience. He has successfully combined innovation with communication and education to develop a number of online videos for health care providers and patients. The videos have been broadly shared on social media and news outlets and one is used in more than 30 emergency departments in Canada.

Dr. Ackery has experience working in remote communities in northern Ontario and in his work with Ornge, helped to deliver vaccines during “Operation Remote Immunity.” He is committed to working with all partners to explore the system issues and opportunities to create better coordination and access to care for patients, particularly in the north.

As Provincial Medical Director for CritiCall Ontario, Dr. Ackery will provide leadership both internally to CritiCall Ontario staff and team of Associate Medical Directors, and externally by working with key partners and stakeholders to support and promote CritiCall Ontario’s provincial role as leaders in system solutions for Ontario’s health care system.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Ackery on his new role.

Office Manager Donna Perkins Retiring After 14 Years at CritiCall Ontario

After 14 years as CritiCall Ontario’s Office Manager, Donna Perkins is retiring.

Donna joined Hamilton Health Sciences in 2007 as a key support for the Capital Development department. In 2008, she applied for a posting with CritiCall Ontario, a provincial program administered by Hamilton Health Sciences, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Over the years, Donna has been the driving force in providing support for CritiCall Ontario’s Executive Director and ensuring coordination across CritiCall Ontario’s five departments. In addition to supporting CritiCall Ontario staff, Donna has been the first person many people meet or speak with when they connect with CritiCall Ontario outside of its Provincial Call Centre. As the organization’s front-face, she makes sure the first impression people have when they come to the door or make a call to CritiCall Ontario is positive.

“It’s been a real pleasure working with Donna,” said Isabel Hayward, Executive Director of CritiCall Ontario. “She takes so much pride in her work and is willing to roll up her sleeves in every situation, no matter what the task. We’ve relied on her so much over the years and I know we are really going to miss Donna.”

Donna has flexed her skills in many ways during the course of her time at CritiCall Ontario. One of her most recent accomplishments included orchestrating the renovation of CritiCall Ontario’s office space to accommodate both growth in staff and a need for space more conducive to the work being done. Her background in hospitality and catering also served everyone well during staff potlucks and other events where food was part of the equation.

Donna says what she will miss most about working at CritiCall Ontario are the friendships she has developed throughout her journey. “The CritiCall Ontario team are a great bunch who are always willing to lend a helping hand. Working from home these past two years, I’ve realized how much I miss daily interactions with my coworkers. Whether it was talking about something work-related or a short coffee chat, I’ve always felt a sense of camaraderie with my peers,” said Donna.

In addition to relationships with her coworkers, Donna says she will miss the challenges that come with being an office manager. “I’m a bit like a dog with a bone. I love troubleshooting, and I won’t stop until the problem is solved. One challenge I particularly enjoy is dealing with accounting spreadsheets. If the numbers don’t add up, I won’t turn around and hand it off to someone else. I love the satisfaction of being able to fix a problem, and the overall feeling of making mine and my coworkers’ jobs easier!” she said.

“I can’t imagine CritiCall Ontario without Donna,” said Christine Moon, Manager of Communications & Client Relations. “She’s always been the “go to” person for just about every question that comes up and if she doesn’t know the answer, she will go find it. I’ve enjoyed working with Donna but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Donna as a person. She is such a professional but there is a warmth that you can’t help but feel when you have the pleasure of getting to know her.”

Donna will retire at the end of July and is looking forward to the future where she can keep busy doing things she loves and sharing her talents with others.

“I love cooking, so I’m interested in volunteering at local hospices where I can help prepare meals for residents. That will be a great way to keep busy and feel that I’m still playing a part in the healthcare community,” she said.

Congratulations, Donna, on a fantastic career, and thank you for your dedication to CritiCall Ontario over the years! We wish you good health and happiness as you begin your next chapter!

Dr. Desmond Bohn CritiCall Ontario Provincial Medical Director Set to Begin Next Chapter

After 12 years as CritiCall Ontario’s Provincial Medical Director, Dr. Desmond Bohn is set to retire.

Dr. Bohn first joined CritiCall Ontario in 2010 when his tenure as Chief of Critical Care Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto was coming to an end. Since then, he has played an invaluable role at CritiCall Ontario as a passionate leader and strong advocate for accessible, specialized patient care within Ontario. He represented CritiCall Ontario at many provincial tables and has played an ongoing and steadfast role in provincial neurosurgery discussions and strategies. He has forged many important relationships for CritiCall Ontario and developed many friendships along the way.

“Because we work with urgent and emergent patients, there is pressure to provide the most effective solution in the least amount of time to help patients get the resources they need. It’s always a great feeling when we learn that our services assisted a positive patient outcome, so I will miss the ability to do that every day,” said Dr. Bohn.

Isabel Hayward, Executive Director of CritiCall Ontario, says she will miss Dr. Bohn’s problem-solving skills in action. “Des is very passionate about healthcare and how CritiCall Ontario is a leader affecting change. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing his unwavering dedication to support our stakeholders through many initiatives, such as reworking the Hub and Spoke distribution method as a solution for the GTA Neurosurgery Model. In this instance, Des continued to review data and remodel it to demonstrate an opportunity to improve access to Neurological Centres across the province. One day, we will name this process the ‘Bohn Model of Care!’” she said.

“I first met Des 17 years ago when I was a Call Agent and he was the consulting Intensivist for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at SickKids,” said Julie Gordon, Manager of CritiCall Ontario’s Call Centre. “Being on the other end of the call, I experienced first-hand Des’ commitment to his patients and passion for research and innovation. He has always advocated for patients above all else, and ensures the referring physician receives the consultation required to determine the best treatment plan for each individual,” said Julie. “It’s been a privilege working with Des, and it’s an honour to now celebrate his accomplishments. I keep telling him that he’ll miss talking to me every day, although I’m not convinced he believes that!” she joked.

“It’s been such a pleasure working with and getting to know Des over the last 12 years,” said Christine Moon, Manager of Communications and Client Relations at CritiCall Ontario. “He has a subtle yet very effective way of letting you know what he thinks and where he sees opportunity. He does this with such grace and kindness and occasionally takes you by surprise with his keen sense of humour. I will miss all of that and I will certainly miss Des,” she said.

Chris Long, Call Centre Educator, says he will miss collaborating with Des on case facilitation projects. “I always come out of our conversations with an increased knowledge of medicine and what it takes to care for every patient. In my eyes, he set the standard for what it takes to be a leader in his role as Provincial Medical Director,” said Chris.

In addition to his work with CritiCall Ontario staff and at provincial tables, Dr. Bohn also lead the team of Medical Associates who provide day-to-day support to CritiCall Ontario’s Call Centre. This team includes Dr. Hilary Whyte, Medical Director of Acute Care Transport Service (ACTS) at SickKids Toronto, and CritiCall Ontario Medical Associate, who says she has been fortunate to know Dr. Bohn on both a personal and professional level for over 40 years. “I’ve always admired and been in awe of Des ever since I first met him when I was an Associate Chief Resident at SickKids over 40 years ago. When Des took over as Chief of Critical Care Medicine, he demonstrated a hidden talent of being a brilliant administrator. A leader in evidence-based medicine, Des never let the opportunity to ask and answer a clinical question pass. He ran a tight ship, but with an open and honest rhetoric and developed an ethos within the PICU which has been admired and emulated by other hospital units,” said Hilary.

A long-time colleague of Dr. Bohn’s, Hilary says she has also benefitted from knowing Dr. Bohn on a personal level. “Des has been a dear friend to me, and we have shared many great memories together. I’ve always enjoyed regular invitations to his Boxing Day parties, where we never miss an opportunity to share a pint together!” said Hilary.

Excited to begin the next chapter of his life, Dr. Bohn says he is looking forward to traveling to Europe in June to take part in a rowing competition. “I’m part of a rowing group in Prince Edward County, so my team and I will be traveling to the Netherlands to participate in an international competition. Then I’ll be heading to England and Ireland to visit family, so I’m looking forward to spending quality time with loved ones that I haven’t seen in a while,” said Dr. Bohn.

Congratulations, Dr. Bohn, on a wonderful career, and thank you for your many years of dedication to CritiCall Ontario! We wish you good health and happiness as you embark on your next adventure!

Get to Know Call Centre Agent Christine Martin

Call Agent Christine Martin is a seasoned veteran when it comes to supporting Ontario physicians caring for urgent and emergent patients. Stationed in CritiCall Ontario’s Call Centre, Christine is one of many Agents trained to assist physicians who require resources beyond what is available at their hospital.

“Before working at CritiCall, I didn’t realize how many hospitals in the province don’t have access to the support or resources needed for every type of patient. The 3-month training process was unlike any experience I’d had at any other job – learning policies and procedures, how to facilitate calls and shadowing an experienced Call Agent. These experiences opened my eyes to how CritiCall is a part of the solution; I saw how we were helping save lives through over-the-phone consultations and knew I wanted to be a part of that,” said Christine.

After graduating from Mohawk College’s Graphic Design program, Christine realized her passion for helping others would serve more value in the healthcare industry. After taking night courses in Medical Terminology, Christine began her career at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) in 2005 working as a secretary on a one-year contract. When her contract finished, Christine made the move internally where she worked as a Clerk Typist for two years. With a growing interest in critical care, Christine kept her job search limited to HHS where she was hired in 2010 as a full-time Call Agent at CritiCall Ontario.

Christine says that a typical day as an Agent is highly unpredictable, with the goal of assisting urgent and emergent patients as quickly as possible. “When I first started, a busy day would be 60 calls. Since updating our application software to help facilitate calls more efficiently, we can see triple that number on a regular basis. Every shift is different and every minute counts, so it can be stressful at times,” said Christine.

In this challenging position, Christine says the relationships she has built with hospital clerks, nurses, transport services and referring/consulting specialists is her favourite part of her job. “It’s a high-pressure situation for all involved, so using a friendly voice can make a world of difference to the person on the other end of the line. It’s always great to hear a familiar voice and know that you’re both working on assisting the patient to the best of your ability. I also enjoy learning new things on a regular basis simply by listening to the consulting physicians over the phone. Each call is unique,” she says.

When she is not working, Christine’s other full-time job is being a mom. “I love spending time with my two little girls. We love to travel, draw and watch movies together – they keep me busy!”

When asked about her future plans, Christine says she sees herself at CritiCall for many years to come.

To learn more about our Call Centre, please click here.

CritiCall Ontario Proud Partner in Ongoing Pandemic Response

CritiCall Ontario is proud to have been part of Ontario’s collective effort to provide intensive care for patients from Saskatchewan.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, CritiCall Ontario has played a key role in helping hospitals both within and outside of Ontario access care for COVID-19 patients. Back in October, 2021, as Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in Saskatchewan became compressed, the province looked to Ontario and CritiCall Ontario to ensure efficient transfers to support ongoing ICU capacity in Saskatchewan and ensure COVID-19 and other critically ill patients could continue to access critical care.

“We heard very early on in this process from one of the physicians in Saskatchewan that a patient in the province was able to receive life-saving surgery thanks to the support that Ontario provided,” said Isabel Hayward, Executive Director of CritiCall Ontario. “We are incredibly proud to have been able to support this process and expand the ability to provide care for Canadian patients.”

CritiCall Ontario worked with the Provincial Critical Care Command Table and hospitals across Ontario and Saskatchewan to facilitate additional patient transfers. Regular updates on the number of completed transfers were sent to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and partner organizations.

“None of this would be possible without the dedication of our CritiCall Ontario staff and in particular our Call Agents,” said CritiCall Ontario Call Centre Manager Julie Gordon. “They do a tremendous job every day and have demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt to process changes as we have continued to respond to the needs of hospitals, physicians and their patients during this global pandemic.”

Thanks to the many Ontario hospitals, staff and partners who cared for these patients and supported the repatriation of so many. CritiCall Ontario will continue to adapt and assist in the provincial response to the COVID -19 pandemic.