Government also adding operating funding for centre
Ontario is investing over $5.2 million to support the planning and design of a cardiovascular surgery program at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
The investment will make it possible for surgery to be conducted in Northwest Ontario for the first time, helping to address surgical wait times and improving access to lifesaving care closer to home, according to the government.
“With investments like this, our government is cutting wait times and strengthening health care services for people all across the province,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This incredible program will ensure the people of northwestern Ontario can get the critical heart care they need faster and closer to home.”
Since 2018, an average 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. Previously, patients who required vascular surgery had to be transferred to hospitals outside of Northwestern Ontario for treatment.
In 2020/21, 206 patients traveled outside of Northwestern Ontario for cardiovascular surgeries and post-operative care, most often travelling over 10 hours to Toronto.
The investment will help renovate and expand the existing space at the centre. These improvements include:
- 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; and
- renovations to medical devices reprocessing and biomedical departments.
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s world-class acute care facility is equipped with 375 acute care beds. It serves the over 250,000 people scattered throughout Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
“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,” said Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, president and CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
“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.”
Also, the government is increasing the hospital’s operating funding for the third straight year, with over $4.4 million in additional operating funding starting in 2021/22, up by 1.8 per cent to the over $244 million in funding compared with that 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.
In July, Ontario announced it is investing $324 million as part of a wider, comprehensive surgical recovery plan that will enable hospitals and community providers to operate at 110 to 115 per cent capacity.
Under the 2021 Budget, Ontario is investing an additional $1.8 billion in the hospital sector in 2021-2022, bringing the total additional investment in hospitals since the start of the pandemic to over $5.1 billion. This includes creating more than 3,100 additional hospital beds to increase capacity and reduce occupancy pressures caused by COVID-19.