The Ontario government has announced an investment of $5.2 million to support the planning and design of a cardiovascular surgery program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The project will enable cardiac surgery to be regularly performed in Northwestern Ontario. This will help to address surgical wait times and improve access to lifesaving care closer to home.
Wawa News reports that cardiovascular surgery is currently not offered in Northwestern Ontario which means that patients who require cardiovascular surgery must travel to other parts of the province or country to receive care. In 2020/21, 206 patients traveled outside of Northwestern Ontario for cardiovascular surgeries and post-operative care with most traveling over 10 hours to Toronto.
The development of a Cardiovascular Surgery Program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre will make more urgent cardiac and vascular services available so patients can receive timely, high-quality care.
To get the cardiovascular surgery program started, the existing space at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre will be renovated and expanded to include the following:
- Additional cardiovascular surgery inpatient cardiac care unit beds
- A new surgical suite equipped with C-arm imaging technology and recovery area
- An expanded ambulatory care and pre-admission clinic
- A new vascular lab
- Renovations to medical devices reprocessing and biomedical departments
By offering these services in Northwestern Ontario, the program will also help to increase capacity and address surgical wait times in other hospitals across the province that currently perform cardiovascular surgeries for patients from Northwestern Ontario.
The mix of programs and services to be delivered through the cardiovascular surgery program are to be confirmed in future stages of planning.
"Providing safe quality, life-saving care closer to home is our goal, and the generous financial support from the Government of Ontario is vital to achieve it. A full cardiovascular surgery program at our hospital will allow patients in Northwestern Ontario to be provided with the same quality cardiovascular care as they would in Southern Ontario, but without the added stress and expense of having to travel. It also enables patients living in Northwestern Ontario to receive the life-saving procedures they need in a community that is more sensitive to their needs and more familiar with their circumstances."
President & CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre | Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott
The Ontario government is also take further action to support Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the hospital's operating funding for the third straight year, with over $4.4 million in additional operating funding starting in 2021/22. This is an increase of 1.8 per cent to the over $244 million in funding received by the hospital in 2020/21. The government is also providing the hospital with $989,250 to support an additional 2,300 MRI, and 1,565 CT operating hours as part of Ontario's comprehensive surgical recovery plan to provide patients with the care they need.
The government is investing more than $21 billion in capital grants over the next 10 years for hospital projects across Ontario that will lead to $30 billion in hospital infrastructure.
According to Lake Superior News, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre's world-class acute care facility, which is equipped with 375 acute care beds, serves over 250,000 people scattered throughout Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
Since 2018, roughly 258 patients per year have undergone a vascular surgery procedure at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to treat diseases of the vascular system outside the brain and heart.
Posted by Judy Lamelza