Improving Care For Ontario's Youngest Patients

    McGuinty Government Improving Access To Care And Reducing Wait Times For

    TORONTO, Sept. 19 /CNW/ -


    Ontario is continuing to improve health care for children and babies with
more intensive care unit beds, increased funding for paediatric surgeries and
greater support for expectant mothers.

    The government is investing $14.2 million this year to help children
across Ontario get the care they need:

    -  $7 million for a new Maternal Newborn Access to Care Strategy that
       -  Six new neonatal intensive care beds that will provide life-saving
          care for approximately 129 infants per year.
       -  An estimated 22 more intensive care beds over the next two years.
       -  Two important screening programs aimed at ensuring the best care
          for cases of pre-term labour and premature eye disease.

    -  $7.2 million to lower wait times for infants and children by funding
       an additional 4,242 paediatric surgeries at 29 hospitals. This builds
       on last year's $5.5 million investment.

    -  Improving infection control practices in newborn intensive care units
       and investing in information technology to improve the overall
       management of the newborn care system over the next two years.

    Since April/May 2006 paediatric wait times for all paediatric surgical
services have decreased approximately 17 per cent from 273 days to 226 days.
    These initiatives are being boosted by the successful recruitment of Dr.
Shoo Lee, a world renowned neonatologist who is relocating from Alberta to
Toronto. Dr. Shoo Lee becomes Paediatrician-in-Chief at Mount Sinai Hospital
and Head, Division of Neonatology at the University of Toronto. He is the
founder of the Canadian Neonatal Network, a group of Canadian researchers who
collaborate on research issues relating to neonatal care.


    "This is all about making sure that parents can rest assured that their
kids will get the health care they need more quickly," said David Caplan,
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Today's investment builds on our
commitment to strengthen our health care system by improving access to care
and reducing wait times."
    "In the 21st century, when talent and innovation are keys to a strong
health care system and economy, Ontario is a leader," said John Wilkinson,
Minister of Research and Innovation. "Today represents another win for our
province. I'm thrilled to welcome one of the world's top neonatal researchers
to Ontario, Dr. Shoo Lee. Ontario families will benefit from our province
becoming the new home to Dr. Lee's worldwide neonatal research network, in
addition to the patient care he will provide at Mount Sinai and Sick kids."
    "Ontario is providing tremendous vision and leadership in recognizing the
importance of maternal and child health to our society," said Dr. Shoo Lee,
newly-appointed Paediatrician-in-Chief at Mount Sinai Hospital. "I am honoured
to participate in this important endeavour and I look forward to helping
improve access and quality of care in the province and to establishing Ontario
as an international leader in health care, research and training, for the
benefit of our future generations."
    "We are excited and exceptionally proud of our innovative strategy to
expand high quality care for critically ill newborns," said Dr. Charlotte
Moore, Provincial Lead, Maternal, Child and Youth Health Strategy. "With the
tremendous successes we have had with last year's Paediatric Wait Time
Strategy, we are ever the more confident that this new investment in Ontario's
youngest citizen's will secure future generations with the best possible
health outcomes."
    "The dedication and specialized care my two children received in the
neonatal unit essentially gave me a thriving family and all of the joy that
comes with it," said Kristen Christie, mother of two former Mount Sinai NICU
patients. "Moms and babies sometimes need some extra special help and I feel
fortunate to live in a place where the government sees the need for this type
of care and invests in our little ones."


    -  Ontario has 784 neonatal intensive care beds operating in 45
       hospitals: 254 level three and 60 modified level three beds; 401 level
       two and 69 level two advanced beds.

    -  Approximately 19 per cent of all women giving birth in Ontario are
       "high-risk pregnancies", which equals approximately 24,000 women per

    -  Approximately 12 per cent of all babies require an advanced level of
       care (or are considered "high-risk babies"), which equals
       approximately 16,200 babies per year.

    -  The Ontario Newborn Screening Program (ONSP) is Canada's most
       comprehensive, with screening for 28 targeted diseases.


    Find out more about the Valentine Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
( at Mount Sinai Hospital
    Find out more about premature babies
( from Toronto's Hospital
for Sick Children
    Find out more about reductions in paediatric wait times
( in Ontario
    Visit the Children's Info (
Web portal for all the children and youth programs and services provided by
the Government of Ontario

    For public inquires call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161
    (Toll-free in Ontario only)
                                                      Disponible en français



    The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is investing $7 million in
2008/2009 to increase capacity in Ontario's Neonatal Intensive Care Units
(NICUs). This year's funding will:

    -  Add six additional Level III NICU beds in hospitals with high
       occupancy rates. These beds will help the most severely ill babies in
       the province who require complex care.

    -  Fund premature labour testing, known as fetal fibronectin testing, in
       all Ontario delivery hospitals in order to decrease unnecessary high
       risk transfers to maternal transfers;

    -  Fund an innovative pilot program to support remote screening of a
       critical premature eye disease, known as Retinopathy of Prematurity.

    It is expected the six additional Level III beds will be operational this

    Mount Sinai Hospital                           3              $2,279,200
    Hospital for Sick Children                     3              $1,845,000
    TOTAL                                          6              $4,124,200

    This is part of a new Maternal Newborn Access to Care Strategy designed

    -  Significantly increase access to high-risk maternal and neonatal
       services across Ontario
    -  Provide high-quality maternal and newborn care as close to home as
    -  Ensure that Ontario's youngest citizens enjoy the safest health care
       in the world
    -  Develop better IT systems for efficient management, appropriate
       surveillance and accountability.

    The ministry has also established Ontario's first Maternal Newborn
Advisory Committee, under the Provincial Council for Children's Health
( This group has been charged with a number
of pieces of important work, including a full and formal review of all
maternal and newborn units in Ontario as well as convening working groups on
issues such as infection control, transportation, breastfeeding, and other
issues associated with high-risk pregnancy and child birth.


    Level III NICUs provide care for the most complex and severely ill
babies. Most level III NICUs in Ontario are operating at occupancy levels that
don't allow for sudden increases in the number of babies in need of intensive
care. Adding LeveMountl III NICU beds is necessary to address these capacity
issues as well as to prevent women and newborns from being transferred to
other hospitals outside of the province or the country. Out-of-Country
transfers increase risk to the mother and baby, inconvenience the family and
are expensive to the system.
    Level II NICUs are needed to provide care for babies who don't need or no
longer need more specialized or intensive Level III care. Level I beds are for
healthy newborns who are able to stay with their mothers.


    Fetal Fibronectin Testing (fFT) is a screening test (performed using a
cervical swab) for women with symptoms of pre-term labour. The screening test
forecasts the risk of delivery/premature birth in the 7 days following the
test/onset of symptoms. For example, if a woman who is 28 weeks pregnant
(approx 7 months) presents to an emergency room with abdominal pain, she may
or may not be in early labour/threatening to deliver a premature infant. If
the test is positive, she is at high risk of progressing in her labour to
delivery, and therefore requires transfer to a level III facility. If the test
is negative, she is unlikely to proceed to delivery, and can safely be
observed in a lower acuity facility closer to home.
    When the test is positive, it helps direct a timely transfer, ensuring
that preterm births happen in the setting best able to address the needs of
the infants. When the test is negative, it helps avoid unnecessary,
inconvenient and expensive transfers to tertiary centers for women whose
pregnancies are likely to continue.


    Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a disorder that can cause blindness
in premature infants. Early detection, appropriate monitoring and, if
necessary timely treatment, can lead to better outcomes and potentially
prevent blindness for affected children. Remote screening for ROP uses
technology that allows doctors to see diagnostic images of newborn patients
without the patients having to travel to a children's hospital. In other
words, there is access to expert paediatric care closer to home.


    Sharply reducing or eliminating infection-related closures in Level II
and III NICUs will dramatically increase neonatal capacity. Building on
infection prevention and control practices already in place at Ontario
hospitals, the Maternal-Newborn Advisory Committee will refine those best
practices for highest effect in NICUs. With appropriate support, Ontario is
positioned to become a world leader on infection control practices in newborn
intensive care units.


    Ontario Midwifery Program
    Ontario Newborn Screening Program
    Baby Vaccines
    Other children's health

    For public inquires call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161
    (Toll-free in Ontario only)
                                                      Disponible en français



    Through the Local Health Integration Networks the government will invest
$7.2 million under the Ontario Paediatric Wait Time Strategy to further help
improve access to care for children by providing 4,242 additional paediatric
surgeries at 29 hospitals in Ontario in 2008/09. These surgical procedures
were identified by the Paediatric Action Committee as provincial priorities as
a result of the significant wait times associated with them and include:

    -  2,512 additional Dental/Oral surgeries
    -  626 additional Ophthalmology surgeries (eyes)
    -  112 additional Plastic surgeries
    -  256 additional Urology surgeries (kidneys and urinary tract)
    -  65 additional Orthopaedic surgeries (bone and joint)
    -  671 additional Otolaryngology surgeries (ear, nose and throat)

    Ontario is the first province to publicly report paediatric wait times
for all 10 surgical subspecialties. This reporting process is an important
step toward measuring wait times and identifying opportunities for improving
access to health services across the province. Ontario's five Paediatric
Academic Health Science Centres voluntarily submit data on paediatric surgical
wait times and are available online at

    July 2008                      9 out of 10 Patients Treated Within (Days)
    Cardiovascular Surgery                            85
    General Surgery                                  126
    Gynecology                                        76
    Neurosurgery                                      93
    Ophthalmology                                    274
    Dental/Oral Surgery                              318
    Orthopedic Surgery                               240
    Otolaryngology                                   178
    Plastic Surgery                                  311
    Urology                                          238

    ALL SERVICES                                     223


    9 out of 10 Patients Treated Within (Days)
    This is the point at which 90% of the patients received their treatment.

    For public inquires call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161
    (Toll-free in Ontario only)
                                                      Disponible en français


                         DR. SHOO K. LEE'S BIOGRAPHY

    Dr. Shoo Lee is a world-renowned neonatologist and health economist. He
is the Scientific Director of the Integrated Centre for Care Advancement
through Research (iCARE), and is currently Professor of Pediatrics and
Professor of Public Health at the University of Alberta, and Visiting
Professor of Pediatrics at Fudan University in Shanghai. He holds the Canada
Research Chair in Knowledge Translation and Healthcare Improvement and the
Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Health Senior Scholar Award.
    Dr. Lee has spearheaded ground-breaking work in his field. As the
Founding Director of the Canadian Neonatal Network, he established a national
database to study outcomes and practice variations in the neonatal intensive
care unit (NICU), develop models for knowledge translation and healthcare
improvement, and guide health policy. Dr. Lee patented risk prediction and
health informatics systems for neonatal care and pioneered the Evidence-based
Practice for Improving Quality (EPIQ) system for improving quality of health
care. He is also the Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Team in Maternal and Infant Care (MICare).
    Dr. Lee has worked actively on health care issues and health training
around the world. He established the International Training Programs in
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and in Neonatal Nursing in the People's Republic
of China. He also founded the International Neonatal Collaboration, where more
than 200 hospitals from across Canada, the United States, Latin America,
Europe and Asia contribute data and collaborate on research.
    His many awards include the Knowledge Translation Award from the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research, the Aventis Pasteur Research Award and the
Distinguished Neonatologist Award from the Canadian Pediatric Society, and the
Premier Member of Honour Award from the Sociedad Iberoamericana de
    Dr. Lee is a Steering Committee member of the Canadian Perinatal
Surveillance System at the Public Health Agency of Canada; a Council member of
the American Academy of Pediatrics District VIII Perinatal Section; and an
Advisory Board member of the Institute for Human Development, Child and Youth
Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
    He received his medical degree from the University of Singapore,
completed paediatric training at the Janeway Children's Health and
Rehabilitation Centre in Newfoundland and neonatal fellowship training at
Children's Hospital Boston. He received his PhD in Health Policy (Economics)
from Harvard University.

    For public inquires call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161
    (Toll-free in Ontario only)
                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Steve Erwin, Minister's Office,
(416) 326-3986; Mark Nesbitt, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416)

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