Creative Solutions Continue to Promote Access to Health Care in Newfoundland and Labrador

Reposted from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador: 

January 31, 2023 – St. John’s, NL: As the Provincial Government continues its efforts to find creative solutions to improve access to health care in Newfoundland and Labrador, a recently implemented pilot project is making a difference for cardiac patients.

The innovative approach allows patients from other regions of the province, who are in need of cardiac catheterization procedures only offered in the St. John’s region, to access them via a same-day fly-in/fly-out service. Spearheaded by the Eastern Regional Health Authority, patients are assessed based on clinical acuity, and those determined suitable for travel are flown into St. John’s for the procedure and returned to a health care facility in their region the same day.

Completing the procedure and allowing patients to return to their region that same day not only addresses the waiting list for cardiac catheterizations in the province, but also frees up beds that would have been otherwise utilized within Eastern Health. Furthermore, it decreases expenses for families and/or support persons who would ordinarily have to stay in the St. John’s region as well. Approximately 25 patients have benefited from this pilot project to date.

This latest initiative aligns with other measures implemented to help address the surgical backlog in the province, such as the partnership with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute to address the waitlist for cardiac surgery; increased regional caps on cataract surgeries in non-hospital facilities; hip and knee joint replacement surgeries on an outpatient basis for suitable candidates; and additional surgical opportunities for hip and knee joint replacement surgeries in Carbonear and St. Anthony. A task force of health care providers was also established in June of last year to tackle the current surgical backlog and provide meaningful solutions. For more, please click here.

“Newfoundland and Labrador leads the country in both burden and complexity of cardiovascular disease, and reducing the cardiac surgery waitlist is a priority for our government. This innovative strategy to address the number of people currently waiting for cardiac procedures in other regions of our province helps Eastern Health respond to the demand that has resulted from the pandemic and the cyberattack, as well as resource challenges. Solutions like this one are in keeping with our government’s commitment to change the delivery of health care in our province for the better.”
Honourable Dr. Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

“Accessing health care and addressing the surgical backlog in the province remain priority areas for our government. Creative solutions like this one implemented by Eastern Health are a wonderful example of how innovative solutions can be developed that achieve numerous objectives. In this case, patients are receiving the care they need, they get to return to their home area the same day, and hospital beds in this region remain available for other patients.”
Honourable Tom Osborne
Minister of Health and Community Services

“Cardiac patients located in other regional health authorities have specific challenges accessing cardiac catheterization in St. John’s, such as waiting for a bed to open up in Eastern Health and then coordinating that with flights and arrangements for their support persons as they recuperate. This innovative approach supports stable inpatients by transporting them to the cardiac catheterization lab in the morning where they were assessed, treated as appropriate and, depending on clinical findings, returned to their regional health authority later the same day to recuperate closer to their homes and families.”
Dr. Sean Connors
Clinical Chief of Cardiac Care, Eastern Health

“This creative new approach is a novel example of health authorities across the province working together to decrease wait times for patients. This kind of collaboration means that patients in all areas of the province, including rural and remote regions, have equitable access for services of the cardiac catheterization lab. In addition, barriers such as distance are minimized which benefits the most urgent stabilized inpatients who receive the treatment they need in a more timely manner.”
David Diamond
Transitional CEO, Provincial Health Authority


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Last updated: 2023-02-15