St. Mary’s Celebrates 10 years of Excellence in Thoracic and Respiratory Care

November 11th, 2014

IMG_5805 re-sizedNovember 11, 2014 (Kitchener) – St. Mary’s General Hospital is celebrating 10 years of providing specialized, innovative, and compassionate care for patients with respiratory and thoracic issues.

“Great strides have been made in the past decade to ensure that patients with respiratory and thoracic issues receive top quality care with a focus on maximizing their quality of life, reducing emergency visits and admissions, and offering minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat their illnesses,” says Dr. Eric Hentschel, Chief of Pulmonary Services at St. Mary’s and Grand River Hospitals.

“Respiratory illnesses are often chronic and potentially debilitating, and, with the aging population and continued prevalence of smoking, demand for our services is growing,” Dr. Hentschel adds. The concentration of expertise at St. Mary’s has grown significantly in 10 years to meet the needs of patients in Waterloo Wellington and beyond. The team at St. Mary’s includes:

  • Eight respirologists
  • Three thoracic surgeons
  • Four nurse practitioners (one combined Nurse Practitioner/Registered Nurse First Assist)

The community is invited to hear more about these programs at St. Mary’s Annual Community Update on Thursday, November 13 at the hospital from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Click here for an invitation.

“Our community is well served by a specialized team of experts here at St. Mary’s who offer interdisciplinary care through our inpatient, outpatient, surgical and community outreach programs,” says Kim Siegel, Director of Chest and Cardiac Programs at St. Mary’s. “As well, we collaborate with family physicians’ offices and the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre,” she says.

In the past decade, these programs have grown to include exercise and lifestyle modification programs, outreach and education to patients at family physicians’ offices, telemedicine respirology consults to communities without respirologists and the introduction of high-tech equipment to allow less invasive testing and surgery.

St. Mary’s recently has added a third thoracic surgeon with particular expertise in video assisted thoracic surgery to expand our current access to these procedures, which are increasingly used for cancer surgery. There has also been an increased focus on helping patients with complex respiratory needs such as adults with Cystic Fibrosis and those who require or at risk of requiring ventilators to help them breathe, says Ms. Siegel.



Contact: Anne Kelly
Communications Specialist, St. Mary’s General Hospital
519-749-6578, ext. 1501 • 226-339-1903 (mobile)

Backgrounder: Timeline, Statistics and Program Highlights

2004 – Establishment of a Centre of Excellence for respiratory care. Opening of a 27-bed unit on 6th floor with three negative pressure isolation rooms. Consolidates inpatient care with specialized focus by a multi-disciplinary team, including respirologists, thoracic surgeons, nurse practitioners, and respiratory therapists.

2007 – Consolidation of Thoracic Surgery at St. Mary’s as a result of service realignment.

2009 – Designation of St. Mary’s as a Level One Thoracic Surgery Centre with two thoracic surgeons performing approximately 100 lung resections and 15 esophagectomy operations for cancer annually. A third thoracic surgeon has been added with numbers expected to grow to 150 resections and 20 esophagectomies.

2010 – Introduction of Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS), a minimally invasive lung surgery performed using a small video camera that is introduced into the patient’s chest via a scope.

2011  – Transfer of Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic to St. Mary’s from Grand River Hospital.

2013  Launch of a clinic for patients at risk for long-term ventilation.

Outpatient and Outreach Services

  • COPD (Chronic Obtrusive Pulmonary Disease) Activation program (self-management education and support)
  • Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic
  • Robertson Centre for Airway Health (asthma/COPD diagnostics and education)
  • Community Outreach Respiratory Education
  • Respirology Telemedicine Clinic – video respirology consults to outlying areas
  • Patients at Risk for Long-term Ventilation Clinic
  • Strides to Thrive – a pilot rehabilitation program

Innovations and Collaboration

2011 – Innovation AwardforCombined Registered Nurse First Assist/Nurse Practitioner role in thoracic surgery presented to St. Mary’s from the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario and the Canadian Cancer Society.

2011-12 – Long-term Ventilator Weaning Program (pilot project) begins on the St. Mary’s Chest Unit, aimed at decreasing dependence of patients on ventilators.

2013 – Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) introduced as a less invasive way to examine lymph nodes in in the airway and lungs and biopsy if necessary

Statistics on Lung-related Illness

  • Chronic lung disease – More than 2.4 million people in Ontario (1 in 5) have a chronic lung disease
  • COPD – More than 850,000 people in Ontario over age 35 have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It is the second leading cause of admissions at St. Mary’s.
  • Asthma – 865,444 cases (Ontario)
  • Lung cancer – 8,211 new cases in 2009 and 6,462 deaths (Ontario). According to Cancer Care Ontario, in 2009 lung cancer was the second most common newly diagnosed cancer in males in the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (224 new cases) and third most common newly diagnosed cancer in females (189 cases).
  • Pneumonia – Each year, over 6,000 Canadians die from pneumonia.
  • Cystic Fibrosis – Almost 4,000 Canadian children, adolescents, and adults with cystic fibrosis attend specialized CF clinics.