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Windsor hospital, local clinic back health service changes; Provincial plan will move some surgeries, procedures to private clinics permanently

Posted: January 17, 2023

(January 17, 2023)

By: Kathleen Saylors, Windsor Star

Windsor Regional Hospital and a private local medical surgery centre are welcoming the Ford government’s announcement Monday that more publicly funded surgeries and procedures should be performed in private clinics.

It’s something already done for cataract surgeries in Windsor-Essex since the beginning of the pandemic.

David Musyj, CEO of the Windsor Regional Hospital, was joined by physicians Fouad Tayfour and Barry Emara, co-owners of the Windsor Surgical Centre. Tayfour and Emara are local doctors with privileges at Windsor Regional Hospital. Some cataract surgeries have been performed out-of-hospital since 2020, when patient volume and the pandemic restrictions made it impossible to perform the procedure in the hospital “It works, it’s been working for close to three years,” Musyj said. “If we didn’t do this, we would have been in a very difficult if not impossible situation for our patients.”

“It is the same procedure that occurred previously in the hospital, but is now occurring at the Windsor Surgical Centre.”

The Ontario government announced Monday a three-step plan to expand the number of medical procedures, including low-risk surgeries, performed in private clinics.

According to the Ford government, these procedures will continue to be publicly funded by the province and accessed with a patient’s health card, but performed out of hospital in a bid to reduce Ontario’s surgical backlog and free up hospital beds for more complex surgeries.

Step one of the plan includes expanding cataract surgeries performed in private clinics, including the Windsor Surgical Centre, which opened a new facility in October.

The second phase of the plan will see expansion to private clinics of diagnostic imaging as well as colonoscopies and endoscopies.

Finally, the government is expected to introduce legislation next month to allow existing private clinics to conduct more MRI and CT scans, and, beginning in 2024, to extend knee and hip replacement surgeries in private clinics. If passed, the government, which has a majority of seats at Queen’s Park, said the new legislation would also strengthen oversight of these clinics. Monday’s announcement- which Premier Doug Ford said was a permanent change to the delivery of these services – solidifies the service provided by the surgical centre in Windsor, Musyj said, which had been “renewed” by the province multiple times since its inception.

“What it does provide is some certainty because we were operating under almost like six-month contracts, in the sense of the government approving it,” Musyj said.

The wait time for cataract surgery in the region is approximately three months, Musyj said, which is in line with provincial standards.

The Ontario Health Coalition, a non-profit that advocates for publicly funded health care, decried the change in a statement Monday.

“What Ford announced today is a fatal threat to our public health care system,” said OHC executive director Natalie Mehra.

“For-profit privatization of hospitals is a ripoff for patients and a threat to everything we hold dear.”

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