McGuinty government improving access to cardiac services in Northwestern Ontario

    Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre To Provide Angioplasty

    THUNDER BAY, ON, June 15 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is investing up
to $9.4 million in funding this year to improve access to angioplasty services
for residents in Northwestern Ontario, Bill Mauro, MPP for
Thunder-Bay-Atikokan and Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North,
announced today on behalf of Health and Long-Term Care Minister George
    "The provision of angioplasty services at Thunder Bay Regional Health
Sciences Centre was a personal commitment of mine leading into the 2003
Provincial Election," said Mauro. "I am thrilled that today represents the
culmination of almost four years of work. I want to thank all of those who
have helped with this effort and especially the Mended Hearts advocacy group
that first brought this issue to my attention."
    Today's announcement includes $2.7 million in base funding for Thunder
Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to proceed with implementation of its
angioplasty service and means services will start as early as this fall. The
hospital is expected to perform up to 250 angioplasty procedures by the end of
March 2008. Once the service is fully operational the hospital will be able to
treat approximately 550 patients per year. An additional $100,000 will support
temporary physician services from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute
until additional cardiologists are recruited in the area.
    "Our government understands the needs of Northwestern Ontario residents
who want access to high quality angioplasty services closer-to-home," said
Gravelle. "With this new angioplasty service, local residents will have access
to important cardiac procedures and treatments when they require it."
    As part of this announcement, the McGuinty government is also investing
$6.6 million in annual funding for a dedicated critical care air ambulance.
This aircraft will be a dedicated resource that would provide immediate
transport of patients who experience life threatening difficulties while
undergoing angioplasty treatment, to a health care facility offering cardiac
surgical services.
    "Making angioplasty services available in this area of the province is
vital to decreasing waiting times for Northern Ontarians," said Smitherman.
"This new cardiac service will be a huge benefit to this community making
vital treatments and procedures readily available."
    "We are thrilled the government is listening and responding to residents
in Northwestern Ontario," said Ron Saddington, President and CEO of Thunder
Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. "Through access to cardiac services at
our hospital, this funding will ensure a better quality of life for patients."
    Angioplasty service is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to
open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart to treat coronary artery
disease. The procedure is an alternative treatment option for patients
considered to be high risk for cardiac surgery.
    "The establishment of this new program at Thunder Bay Regional Health
Sciences Centre means residents of the North West Local Health Integration
Network will now be able to access angioplasty services without having to
travel outside of Northwestern Ontario resulting in more timely treatment
closer to home", says John Whitfield, Chair of the North West LHIN.
    This is just one more example of how, working together, we can achieve
results in health care services for Northwestern Ontario. Other initiatives

    -  Reducing angiography wait times by almost 63 per cent or 32 days;
    -  Supporting 44,198 additional medical procedures in five key areas
       (cancer surgery, cardiac procedures, hip and knee replacements,
       cataract surgery and MRI and CT scans) since 2004;
    -  Improving access to needed medical services in the north by creating
       the new Northern Ontario School of medicine which opened in 2005.

    Today's initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan for
innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three
priorities - keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing
better access to doctors and nurses.

    This news release, along with other media materials, such as matte
stories and audio clips, on other subjects, are available on our website at: under the News Media section.
    For more information on achievements in health care, visit:

    Disponible en français.

For further information:

For further information: Jeff Rohrer, Minister's Office, (416) 326-8016;
 David Jensen, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416) 314-6197; Members
of the general public: 1-866-532-3161

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