Expanding Access to Care with a Waterloo Wellington Regional Cardiac Program

April 16th, 2018


April 16, 2018 (Kitchener) – St. Mary’s General Hospital, in partnership with the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN), has developed a Strategic Plan for 2018-22 to meet the growing needs for cardiac care in Waterloo Wellington. Among the objectives in the plan, which was recently endorsed by WWLHIN board, is expanding services within St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, and into the wider community so Waterloo Wellington residents have more equitable access to highly specialized cardiac care closer to home.

The plan was developed in consultation with approximately 100 stakeholders including patients, referring hospitals, St. Mary’s staff and community organizations. It will be implemented over the next several years through a coordinated network of providers and community partners, led by St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre – a national leader in cardiac quality outcomes.

“A strategic plan sets a vision, objectives and goals and developing this first Waterloo Wellington Cardiac Strategic Plan has helped us focus on future needs and direction,” said St. Mary’s President Don Shilton. Stakeholders felt that access to high quality urgent cardiac care in the region is excellent. They also identified gaps and inefficiencies in care, and in coordination of care between providers, particularly for complex patients who are non-emergent, he said.

“This plan will evolve and is the beginning of a tremendous amount of work and consultation with stakeholders, including patients, to further plan how we can achieve success,” added Dr. Brian McNamara, Chief of Cardiovascular Services at St. Mary’s and Grand River Hospital. “Some of the objectives in the plan will be achieved in the shorter term and some are quite complex and will take longer to achieve.” Seven working groups are in the process of being created and will include patient representation to map out how objectives will be met.

For a one page summary of the plan click here. For the plan At a Glance click here.

The plan’s objectives are:

Partnering with patients – Create a strong culture of patient engagement in order to drive quality care and a better patient experience by:

  • Ensuring the patient experience is understood and embedded in our planning and service improvements
  • Involving patients and their families in the service/program delivery process
  • Developing accessible and easy-to-understand educational resources for patients and providers

Expanding access to care – Make it easier for patients to access quality, complex cardiovascular services closer to home by:

  • Investing in human resources and infrastructure at St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Centre to best serve patients and offer more advanced services locally
  • Address the need for quality diagnostic testing and access to cardiologist consultation
  • Coordinate cardiac care delivery across the region

Integrating a quality program across the health care system – Spread equal standards

of care across Waterloo Wellington

  • Develop a common quality framework for the initiatives in the strategic plan
  • Improve access to and quality of programs for cardiac rehab and heart failure patients
  • Take advantage of technology to make care seamless and easier to access across the region

The cardiac centre at St. Mary’s has been nationally recognized for providing high quality services even as patient demand and complexity has risen significantly. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) identified St. Mary’s as one of three cardiac centres in Canada performing better than the national average on all six cardiac quality indicators measured in a CIHI reporting covering 2013-13 to 2015-16. Also the mortality rate for cardiac surgery at St. Mary’s was less than half the national average.

These excellent results have been achieved even as patient demand and complexity has risen significantly over the last five fiscal years.

Between fiscal years 2012-13 and 2017-18 St. Mary’s has experienced growth in procedures of approximately:

  • 11% growth in cardiac surgery
  • 30% growth in cardiac catheterizations
  • 98% growth in cardiac angioplasty
  • 60% growth in pacemaker insertions
  • 940% growth in implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) insertions

Activity from April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018

  • 854 Valve replacement and bypass surgeries
  • 4,303 Diagnostic cardiac catheterizations
  • 1,493 Angioplasty procedures
  • 459 Pacemaker insertions
  • 179 Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) insertions
  • 10,000 Outpatient clinic visits

Expansion plans in 2018-19 include the addition of advanced heart rhythm services (electrophysiology studies and ablation) and less invasive procedures for heart valve replacement. Future infrastructure needs include a third cardiac catheterization lab to handle demand.

“This plan not only builds on the strengths of cardiac services at St. Mary’s, it also envisions partnerships with different health and community organizations so that we can offer enhanced service closer to home,” says Dr. McNamara. “We are very excited to have the support of both the hospital and WWLHIN boards in what will be a community-wide effort to expand services and improve the patient experience.”





Anne Kelly
Manager, Communications
519-749-6578 ext. 1501