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Province invests $42.4 million to reduce wait times

Move will improve access and ensure quality care

Increased funding announced today will boost the number of knee replacements done at the Concordia Hip and Knee Institute
Increased funding announced today will boost the number of knee replacements done at the Concordia Hip and Knee Institute.
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Service enhancement by category

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Thursday May 26, 2011

The province is making a $42.4-million investment to reduce waits for diagnostic testing, cardiac and orthopedic services, improving access and ensuring quality care for patients, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today. 

"Manitobans have always wanted timely access to health-care services that will enhance their quality of life," said Oswald.  "That's why we're building on past investments and providing more than $42 million to help reduce wait times for care and improve choices for patients across our province."

More than $11.5 million will be used to add capacity for thousands more MRI, CT and ultrasound scans to meet patient and physician diagnostic testing needs, Oswald said.

The minister said wait times for MRI scans are currently at an estimated 17 weeks for non-emergent cases, down nearly 50 per cent from a high of 32 in 1998. While there's been a five-fold increase in the number of MRI scans performed in Manitoba since 1999, a volume that reached 56,000 scans last year, an increased number of tests are needed to help improve access to and meet the demand for MRI testing, she said. 

More than 12,000 additional MRI scans are being added this year, said Oswald, adding that additional investments also include adding 7,000 more echocardiograms and more than 9,000 more ultrasounds this year.

More than $11.7 million in funding will be used to improve orthopedic services including adding hundreds of additional hip and knee replacement surgeries, offering patients more choice through the expansion of a central intake system and increasing efficiencies by implementing innovative work-flow improvements, the minister said.

"This is a significant announcement for the Regional Health Authority - Central Manitoba. It confirms our continued role on a provincial scale relative to many initiatives including the orthopedics program at the Boundary Trails Health Centre and a comprehensive diagnostics program at both our regional centres," said RHA Central chief executive officer Kathy McPhail. "We are committed to continue partnering with the province in moving the wait time reduction strategy forward and to assist Manitobans in their health-care journey." 

Dr. Brock Wright, chief medical officer and senior vice-president of clinical services of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said the region plans to implement innovative models of care that will increase patient access and improve system efficiencies.

"It's important we continue to build on our successes by further centralizing the intake process so that the length of time between a referral and surgery is as short as possible," said Wright.

The minister noted the province is making a $17.2-million investment to continue meeting cardiac surgery benchmarks by increasing beds dedicated to cardiac surgeries and increasing staffing to handle complex patient care needs, expanding cardiac catheterization services and enhancing volume capacity for echocardiograms.

Oswald also said, more than $2 million will support sleep-disorder services by increasing funding to provide treatment equipment to 2,140 additional patients per year to meet the increasing number of patients with a sleep-disorder diagnosis.  Sleep apnea testing was increased by 30 per cent in 2009 with the addition of Level 3 in-home testing.

The minister noted that many of the new initiatives are already underway and that Manitobans are already seeing further improvements in accessing many services.

The new investments this year build on successful work since 2005 that has reduced wait times and has improved access for hip and knee surgeries, cancer radiation therapy, cataract and cardiac surgery, and diagnostic imaging, supported in part by targeted federal support, she said.

"With the end of dedicated federal wait-times funding, our government will continue to invest in this area to see continued progress in improving access for Manitoba families and meeting increased demands for services," said Oswald.  "These improvements will provide patients with more choice about when and where they receive their procedures and who provides them, allowing patients to receive high-quality care as quickly as possible."

Service enhancement by category

Diagnostic Imaging

More than $11.5 million in funding will be used to enhance diagnostic imaging services including:

  • Installing a temporary, mobile MRI to decrease waits at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg,
  • Expanding the volume of MRI services in Winnipeg,
  • Expanding ultrasound hours throughout Winnipeg,
  • Adding a new ultrasound machine in Portage la Prairie and new staff to reduce ultrasound wait times in the central region,
  • Supporting improved diagnostic imaging patient flow and work flow, and
  • Implementing enhanced service hours and on-call CT and ultrasound services throughout the province.

Orthopedic Services

More than $11.5 million in funding will be used to improve orthopedic services including:

  • Adding hundreds of hip and knee replacements at Grace General Hospital, Concordia Hospital and Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg and at Boundary Trails Hospital in Morden/Winkler;
  • Introducing a shoulder-replacement day-surgery program at Winnipeg's Pan Am Clinic;
  • Expanding the implementation of a central intake for joint replacement services in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and supporting improved patient flow;
  • Funding enhanced joint replacement prosthetics and orthopedic trauma coverage in the Regional Health Authority - Central Manitoba;
  • Introducing a surgical assistant in the central region to support orthopedic emergency services; and
  • Supporting patients who wish to have their surgery transferred from surgeons with long waits to surgeons with shorter waits.

Cardiac Care

More than $17.2 million will support improved cardiac care including:

  • Expanding cardiac surgeries by an additional day per week,
  • Increasing the number of beds dedicated to cardiac surgeries to support increased surgeries and critical-care capacity,
  • Expanding cardiac catheterization services,
  • Increasing echocardiography volumes at St. Boniface Hospital and the Health Sciences Centre by 3,000 cases per year,
  • Introducing an echocardiography service at Maples Surgical Centre for one year to perform 3,000 cases,
  • Increasing echocardiography volumes by more than 1,000 cases per year in Brandon, and
  • Supporting improved patient flow and work flow processing.

Sleep Disorders

More than $2 million will be invested to increase sleep-disorder equipment funding to provide treatment equipment to 2,140 additional patients per year.

Source: Manitoba Government

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