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New private cardiology clinic unveiled to combat long wait times

Posted: April 25, 2018

(April 25, 2018)

By: Sanjay Maru, CBC News

People who have suffered a cardiac incident have a new place to receive treatment ? but it will come at a cost.

The Windsor-Essex Rehabilitation & Wellness Centre was unveiled Wednesday during a grand opening. The program was first established as a pilot last year and is now being implemented as a permanent treatment option for cardiac patients in Windsor-Essex County.

Funding for the new clinic will be privatized, meaning patients will have to pay for care through insurance or out-of-pocket.

Cardiologist Roland Mikhail said the private clinic will give patients a faster “portal of entry” into accessing rehabilitation.

“While people wait for the opening to come up in the publicly-funded program, we have the opportunity to get them right away into rehab.”

According to Windsor Cardiac Care, more than 1,000 patients in Windsor-Essex County experience a cardiac event annually and only 600 can access a cardiac rehabilitation program.

“People have waited anywhere from three to six months to engage in the public program,” said Mikhail.

A longstanding debate

The subject of private clinics have remained at the forefront of controversy.

During a proposal for a private eye care centre in west Newfoundland, The Canadian Health Coalition said private practices “can prey on vulnerable patients, who might not know about the rules and their rights.”

Richard Maling, a patient of the cardiac rehabilitation program, said private services speed up the process of receiving care.

“I met with Dr. Mikhail and he offered this wellness program which I started in January. So although there is another program available, there is months and months to wait, and I wasn’t one of those people that felt comfortable doing that,” he said, adding the program started just six weeks after his initial cardiac incident.

Maling said it would have taken him six months to receive care in the public system.

The idea to bring a private clinic to Windsor came from cardiologist Dhssraj Singh. He originally worked in the United States and noticed a lack of private health care clinics in Windsor.

“In America, cardiovascular care is practiced very differently … You see a patient [in Windsor] three months after a heart attack and you ask, ‘how’s cardiac rehab going?’ And they say, ‘I haven’t heard from them yet.’ … But it’s not them twiddling their thumbs. Everyone’s just busy in a stretched system.”

Running the numbers

The clinic has enrolled 200 patients into the program without being placed on a wait list.

Comparatively, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare typically gets 1300 referrals for their cardiac wellness program, even though they are only funded for 500 patients annually.

“From the time that [a patient] gets called in for orientation to the time that they see a nurse practitioner, it’s four to five weeks …  It’s in those few weeks that, at times, we would like to see that accelerated and that’s the real gap for us,” said Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare vice president Bill Marra.

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