News Stories

Government funds Orthopaedic Assessment Centre

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 -- By Jason Thompson
For people in the Central East LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) suffering from chronic discomfort in their bones and joints, a new Orthopaedic Assessment Centre should help ease the pain.

James Meloche, the senior director of planning, integration and community engagement at the Central East LHIN, says the assessment centre “will try and change the referral and the consumer pathway between the primary care and the acute care system in a way that will work better for the client and work better for the health care provider.”

Meloche says the government provided more than $900,000 for the assessment centre and will make use of exiting infrastructure. Between eight and 10 full-time jobs, including nurse practitioners, a dietician and a case manager, will be created to staff the assessment centre.

The goal is to have patients examined at the Orthopaedic Assessment Centre no more than 15 days after visiting their primary physician. In about four months the centre should be up and running at the Scarborough Hospital’s Grace Campus and one day a week at the Ajax Pickering site of the Rouge Valley Health System. Meloche says it could take about a year before the centre is fully-operational.

“Currently by the time you get to a specialist…you may find out you’re not a candidate for surgery, that what you need is pain management and a behavioural change,” says Meloche.

“The assessment centre will speed up that process so patients will know whether they’re a candidate for surgery or not. If not, they’re put on a program to help with their condition.”

According to a government press release, the centre should result in more surgeons spending less time in their offices and more time in the operating room, which would increase the number of cases seen. The centre will be able to handle about 6,000 patients a year.

Meloche says the assessment centre should help reduce wait times but in order to be successful, physicians and surgeons are going to have to buy into the new referral process.

“We actually think it’s going to be successful from the beginning but we want to duplicate this for other areas in the LHIN. It’s meant to be a model we can evaluate and then roll out further,” says Meloche.

“We don’t expect everyone in the LHIN is going to travel down to Scarborough for their orthopaedic assessment. But if this works, then it could possibly work between Lakeridge, Peterborough and Lindsay.”

For more information on the Orthopaedic Assessment Centre, phone the Central East LHIN at 905-427-5497.