St. Mary’s Heart Rhythm Program Expansion to Break Ground in Spring of 2020

December 18th, 2019

A photo of Minister of Health Christine Elliott announcing funding for St. Mary's St. Mary’s General Hospital is celebrating today after receiving final approval to begin construction of a $13 million redevelopment of its Heart Rhythm Program. The project will bring new electrophysiology and ablation services to St. Mary’s for patients with abnormal heart rhythms, reducing long wait and travel times.

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, was at St. Mary’s  to announce that Ontario is investing up to $7.4 million for the capital project. The remainder will be supported by $5.6 million in funds already invested by local donors. Construction will begin in the spring of 2020 and is expected to be complete by spring of 2021. The project includes:

  • creating a new electrophysiology (EP) lab in operating room space currently shelled in
  • building 3,500 square feet of new patient recovery space
  • expanding cardiac diagnostic clinic space.

“Our comprehensive plan to end hallway health care includes building additional capacity for specialized services in communities like Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Elliott. “This project will enable the hospital to offer a full continuum of cardiac services and provide patients and families with better access to the quality care they expect and deserve closer to home.”

So far in 2019, St. Mary’s has referred more than 80 patients for EP services out of the region with most waiting up to 18 months or more for their procedure.

St. Mary’s Interim President John Woods said “we are thrilled to launch these important new services at St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, one of the top three cardiac centres in Canada. We are extremely grateful for the commitment by the Ontario government to complete our Heart Rhythm Program suite of services and thank our donors for investing in the equipment our clinicians will need. This is a great day for patients, our teams and our community.”

Elliott also announced that St. Mary’s will receive nearly $750,000 as part of Ontario’s Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund. These funds will be used for roof replacements and generator upgrades.

To read more about today’s announcements, click here to read the Ministry of Health news release. 

For more information contact:

Anne Kelly, Manger, Communications
519-749-6578, ext. 1501
226-339-1903 (mobile)


How many patients will benefit annually from the new EP services?
So far in 2019 St. Mary’s has referred more than 80 patients out of the region for electrophysiology studies and ablation. These patients will received all of their care at St. Mary’s once construction is complete in the spring of 2021.

What are the current wait times?
Four to six months for an initial assessment and diagnostic testing at St. Mary’s, then another 12 to 18 months for electrophysiology studies and ablation for patients with the most common form of heart rhythm issues – atrial fibrillation

How long will patients wait when the expansion opens?
Initially there will not be a wait for electrophysiology studies and ablation at St. Mary’s. There will continue be a wait for assessment and diagnostic tests.

About heart rhythm issues and the new services:

What is an abnormal heart rhythm?
The medical term is arrhythmia and this occurs when the electrical impulses that coordinate a person’s heartbeats do not work properly, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.

What are symptoms of arrhythmia?

Symptoms can include shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, light headedness, fainting or near fainting, and chest pain or discomfort. Medical management is the first line of treatment, but is not effective in all cases.

What are electrophysiology studies and ablation?

Electrophysiology studies identify the electrical areas of the heart responsible for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin tube is advanced through blood vessels to the heart. Through the tube intense heat or cold is applied to ablate (stop) the abnormal electrical signals that are causing the arrhythmias.

What other services does St. Mary’s Heart Rhythm Program offer?
The program offers a wide range of device insertions, including traditional and leadless pacemakers, internal cardiac defibrillators and re-synchronization devices. The program also offers cardioversion to help restore normal heart rhythm and remote pacemaker monitoring for patients in Guelph.