Imagine having heart surgery, far away from home.
If you live anywhere in Northwestern Ontario, it’s not hard to imagine at all – that’s the situation for people here every day. Each year, about 1,000 patients from Northwestern Ontario fly to and from Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, and elsewhere for cardiac surgery before making the long trek home.
Rod Morrison knows the stress and challenges all too well. After undergoing quadruple bypass surgery in Hamilton, it took eight or nine hours from the time he was discharged to the time he was home in Thunder Bay again – an ordeal that every heart patient could do without.
For Kathy Clouthier, it wasn’t the travelling so much as the time away from home. Due to complications, she spent three weeks in Toronto, missing the support and love of friends and family.
“I can’t say enough about the great care I had in Toronto,” Kathy said. “Everyone there was nice and professional, and I trusted them completely. The only thing was, it wasn’t here at home.”
Soon though, it will be. Last summer, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre along with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced a plan for a new cardiovascular surgical program coming to Thunder Bay. When it does, thousands of patients will be able to get the care they need closer to home. That means less stress and less travel, and more time with friends and family during recovery.
What makes this program so unique is that it will be a partnership with the University Health Network’s (UHN) Peter Munk Cardiac Centre – Canada’s premier cardiac centre.
The program will help relieve pressure on the whole system as well. The number of cardiac and vascular surgeries performed in Ontario is projected to grow in the foreseeable future, which means the province will need to increase capacity – and creating a program in Thunder Bay fits that bill. It will also reduce travel costs to patients and the system as approximately 1,000 patients each year will be able to get the treatment they need, closer to home.