Healing Hearts at Home: Cardiovascular Surgery Program will nearly eliminate the need to travel for care

Arlene Thomson, Senior Director, Cardiovascular Program Development and Implementation, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

While some patients with extremely complex cardiovascular issues may be transported to Toronto for care, the majority of patients in Northwestern Ontario – about 9 in 10 patients – will be able to get the cardiovascular surgery services they need, when they need it, right here in Thunder Bay. In the rare cases where travel is recommended, it will be much easier than before because of our “One Program – Two Sites” partnership with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network.

As we move toward the introduction of cardiac surgery, it is estimated that 400-500 patients per year will benefit from having access to this critical service in Thunder Bay. Based on the needs of the population of Northwestern Ontario and the size of the program, long wait times are not anticipated.

People in Northwestern Ontario suffer from high rates of cardiac disease, the highest rates of amputation in the province, and high rates of diabetes and stroke. That’s why providing cardiovascular surgical services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is critical.

There is already a lot to celebrate. In 2018/19, our Hospital completed 937 vascular procedures on patients who previously would have had to travel to Southern Ontario for treatment. Timely access to vascular surgeons has spared even more patients from traveling for consultations that did not require a surgical procedure to take place, bringing the total number of patients who avoided travel to well over one thousand.

The Cardiovascular surgery program will require new equipment, surgical spaces, and training as we grow our program. University Health Network will provide most of the support and training, and government funding will help us with building costs. The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation is turning to its generous donors to raise funds to provide the necessary equipment required for this surgical program.

To learn more about how your donation to the “Our Hearts At Home Cardiovascular Campaign” will bring life-and limb-saving cardiovascular surgery to Northwestern Ontario, please visit OurHeartsAtHome.ca.