In recognition of her extraordinary dedication and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Renee Logan has been named CAMH Physician of the Year.
“It has been an incredible growth experience for me. It has challenged me in so many ways. I didn’t realize I was capable of doing some of the things I did,” says Dr. Logan, who led CAMH’s Infection, Prevention and Control (IPAC) team from the time the pandemic began and was promoted to Medical Director of IPAC in May of this year. “The support I got from this hospital was incredible. Just the buy-in from everyone. People really wanted to know what was going on, how they could help, what they needed to do and how they needed to do it.”
When the pandemic began to accelerate in March of 2020, Dr. Logan realized almost immediately what an immense challenge it would be and how much it would transform her working life over the next 15 months.
“The moment I realized this wasn’t going to end as quickly as I thought was the Friday night before March Break, which was the 13th. I was sitting in an office with (Senior Director Clinical Services) Amanda Robins updating some guidance for the hospital. I think it was around nine o’clock and I thought ‘wow. This is going to be a lot of work. We’re going to have to keep working through the weekend.’ By the end of the weekend I realized that we weren’t finishing up anything. We were just getting started.”
It would be another 15 months, until just a few weeks ago, before Dr. Logan would get her next weekend off. That dedication and tireless effort was noticed by everyone she encountered at CAMH.
“Renee was the go-to physician during the pandemic, providing wise advice on Infection Prevention and Control, both within CAMH and the mental health community,” says Physician in Chief Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos.
“Renee tackled all issues with confidence and compassion, helping us all to navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic,” says Senior VP and Chief Operating Officer Tracey MacArthur. “I am so proud to work with Renee—she transitioned so seamlessly into a strong leadership presence at CAMH.”
“It’s Sunday night, and—in the middle of the pandemic—a clinical issue has come up. I need an answer fast,” says co-chief of the General Adult Psychiatry and Health Systems Division Dr. David Gratzer. “I text Dr. Logan, who responds almost immediately. She offers to talk to me by phone. Over the next few minutes, she patiently listens, then provides sagely advice. With so much going on with the pandemic, with so much confusion and so many rumours, Dr. Logan has distinguished herself as a sensible voice, helping different teams work together in dealing with COVID-19.”
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working closely alongside Renee,” says Robins. “She stepped into a massive role with grace and quiet confidence, working seven days a week, sifting through ever changing and conflicting guidance, all to ensure CAMH patients and staff were protected. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work and learn from Renee during this most challenging time. We also had some tremendous laughs—which really did keep the spirits up and energy going. “
“Renee has a calm, quiet leadership style, building coalitions transparently and collaboratively but all the while willing to speak truth to power,” says CAMH Senior Medical Consultant Dr. Peter Selby. “She also has excellent listening and reflective skills, making very thoughtful decisions with no hesitation to course correct as new information emerges. These qualities made her the exact right choice to be the physician lead in the command centre when the pandemic was declared.”
Dr. Logan says she is not a big “ah-ha moment” kind of person when it comes to trying to solve some of the immense problems presented by COVID-19, like the core challenge of reducing the risk of infection among CAMH patients while also trying to minimize disruption to their therapeutic care. The flip side of that is she is not an “oh-no moment” kind of person either, using phrases like “chip away” to avoid feeling overwhelmed in the moment by the task at hand.
“I don’t struggle with change,” says Dr. Logan. “I know some people struggled with that and described it as chaos, but I felt it was just a reflection that we were learning more.”
She says one of her biggest personal challenges as a self-described introvert was in taking on such a visible leadership role at CAMH.
“I almost had a heart attack when they asked me to do Grand Rounds! The flip side of my shyness with public speaking is my tenacity. Not letting things go would override everything and gave me the confidence that I would be able to do this.”
Looking back at the entire arc of the pandemic, she says this award is truly a group effort.
“I view this as a CAMH award. I really felt that this is reflective of a huge and incredible—I could cry saying it—an incredible team effort. I cannot tell you how proud I am of everyone at CAMH.”