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Process closer to ending opthalmology program at Stevenson

Posted March 20, 2014

In less than two weeks, a new fiscal period begins at Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) but a decision on the future of cataract and glaucoma surgeries in Alliston has yet to be determined, or at least made public.

Next week's Central LHIN board meeting agenda sets out the interim funding allocations for the 2014-15 (final figures will be finalized following the provincial budget). SMH can expect about $19.6 million in total funding, which eclipses its previous two year average of $19 million.

SMH Alliston
Source Central LHIN March 2014

The agenda also discusses the pending transfers and consolidation of cataract procedures to Southlake in Newmarket, and the Branson site of North York General Hospital, as recommended by Central LHIN's Eye Care Committee. SMH has offered opthalmology since 2004, which expanded to include complex surgeries with the arrival of specialist, Dr. Baseer Khan, in 2006. In 2012-13, he performed 190 glaucoma surgeries at a cost of about $1,000 each to the hospital. It's the only facility north of Toronto where these surgeries take place in the province.

Last April, SMH implemented a funding hard cap of 45 glaucoma surgeries, whose limit was reached late last summer. There have been no such procedures since then. Additionally, Central LHIN cut back funding for cataract surgeries in Alliston scaling back from 419 procedures in 2011-12, to 300 in 2012-13.

The issue of glaucoma surgeries hits a hurdle at SMH because its funding comes from the hospital's global budget, and the hospital's board of directors has justified its decision to scale back the program because the majority of patients are from outside the hospital's catchment area.

Asked this afternoon whether at minimum the same level of service would carry over to 2014-15, Robin MacLennan, SMH's communications officer, told Free Press Online, "those decisions are not yet made."

"Ophthalmology services across the LHIN are currently being reviewed by the  Eye Care Committee, in collaboration with the LHIN and other providers. It has been determined that the CLHIN's population is best cared for through an integrated structure across the CLHIN and its hospitals with eye surgeries being delivered through a two centers for eye surgery," wrote Ms. MacLennan, via email. "All types of ophthalmology services are being discussed, such as cataracts ( day and inpatient), corneal procedures, and glaucoma surgery. Stevenson is currently examining our vision for ophthalmology, attempting to align services with attention to the Central LHIN position statement and the Provincial Vision Strategy Task Force."

Other local health service delivery providers identified for funding from Central LHIN in 2014-15 include:

$38,144 to SMH for palliative care; $578,897 to the Mary McGill Community Mental Health Centre, as well as $64,447 for sessional fee; $2.9 million to Good Samaritan Nursing Home and $4.97 million to Simcoe Manor.

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