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Province starts rolling out 'specialty clinics' for cataracts, colonoscopies

Posted March 21, 2014

As the ophthalmology program accelerates its wind down process at Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) in Alliston to comply with Central LHIN's consolidation plans for those procedures, The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is accepting applications until April 22nd, to create not-for-profit cataract specialty clinics that would focus on "low risk" surgeries that do not require overnight stays.

The Health ministry, along with LHINs, and Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) "are working together to rollout Specialty Clinics", that will also include ones for colonoscopy services.

The ministry currently funds additional eye surgeries (outside hospital settings) at the Kensington Eye Institute, a clinic in Toronto, whose roster includes Dr. Baseer Khan. Dr. Khan has been performing complex eye surgeries at Stevenson since 2006.

Central LHIN has directed cataract surgeries to take place at Southlake in Newmarket and Branson site of North York General by 2015.

Dr. Khan has been lobbying, along with his patients, to keep the opthalmology program active in Alliston. At its peak two years ago, there were 419 cataract procedures, and 190 glaucoma surgeries that took place at SMH. Last year funding was cut back to paying for 300 and 45 respectively.

SMH Board Chair John Swinden, in an email reply to Free Press Online, confirmed that the future of Ophthalmology at SMH was not assured beyond March 31, the end of the current fiscal year.

"You may also know that (SMH CEO) Jody Levac and I made a vigorous presentation to the Central LHIN advocating for this patient service and Dr. Khan," wrote Mr. Swinden. "At this time the Central LHIN tells us their policy is to support ophthalmology at two sites, Southlake and North York (Branson). The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care just a few days ago called for proposals for self standing Eye Clinics in Ontario; as you may know Dr. Khan has one of these clinics now, which is located in the GTA."

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