Northern Exposure

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre partner in innovative care delivery: “One program, Two sites”

Not long ago, when people living in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario experienced cardiovascular problems requiring surgery, their lives were turned upside down – again and again. Not only were they required to travel to southern Ontario for face time with a cardiovascular diagnostic team in Toronto, Hamilton or London, but preoperative testing required travelling south too. Then, of course, there was another grueling trip for the surgery. Multiple journeys not only created a financial burden, but they placed undue stress on patients and families.

But now that’s changing, because of an innovative program in partnership with the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre.

“Our motto is, ‘one program, two sites,’” explains Helen Storey, the Thunder Bay Nurse Co-ordinator at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. “We’re committed to providing the same level of care regardless of where the patient lives.”

The “one program, two sites” program helps northwestern patients receive care closer to home, says Ms. Storey. There are three vascular surgeons currently working at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The larger team of vascular surgeons at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre support them in many ways and provide backup emergency support when required.

While cardiac surgery is still in the planning stage, much has been accomplished behind the scenes already. Three perfusionists – healthcare professionals who use the cardiopulmonary bypass machine during cardiac surgery – have trained at UHN’s Toronto General Hospital, so they’ll be ready to support cardiac surgery in Thunder Bay.

What’s more, four cardiovascular surgeons from the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre are already on rotation and travel to Thunder Bay and provide 12 clinics per year. The surgeons see patients preoperatively and then follow up with them after their surgery in Toronto. Because of this pioneering partnership between medical institutions, more people in Thunder Bay are getting cardiovascular care at home. Medical professionals like Ms. Storey, a 35-year nursing veteran, help to bridge the two communities by offering attention and support. “Nobody is getting lost in the shuffle,” says Ms. Storey.

Published with permission from the Peter Munk Centre / University Health Network Magazine (Winter 2019 Edition). For more information, please contact Kathy Bogacki, RN, Regional Cardiovascular Triage Nurse at Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre at

Together, let’s take care of our hearts at home. Make your donation at or call (807) 345-4673. Drop by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation’s Donation Centre inside the Hospital at 980 Oliver Rd.