New assessment centre to cut wait times for joint replacement surgery in Scarborough, Durham and beyond

Program a new Central East LHIN partnership between The Scarborough Hospital and Rouge Valley Health System

After five years in search of an answer, it took less than one hour at the Central East Musculoskeletal Assessment Centre (CEMAC) for Eleanor Mooney to learn why her left knee was increasingly painful. Thanks to the new assessment program, Mooney is going to receive the treatment she needs within a matter of weeks, not years.

CEMAC, a Central East Local Health Integration Network (CE LHIN) initiative, is a partnership between TSH and Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS). It recently opened its doors as a single access point for orthopaedic and musculoskeletal care for patients from Scarborough, Durham and beyond. The CEMAC team, which currently consists of two advanced practice physiotherapists and is recruiting a Nurse Practitioner, will spend four days at the Grace campus of TSH and one day at the Ajax site of RVHS.

“Decreasing wait times for patients is important to Rouge Valley so we’re delighted to be active partners in this initiative,” says Natalie Bubela, RVHS Vice-President, Programs. “Partnerships like this point the way to the future of healthcare delivery in Ontario.”

Wendy Abbas, Patient Care Manager, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at TSH, says faster access to care is “probably the biggest benefit for patients.”

“Patients normally wait up to six months to see an orthopaedic surgeon who may or may not recommend joint replacement. But CEMAC cuts down total wait time from referral to seeing an orthopaedic surgeon to eight weeks,” Abbas says.

Physician referral forms are downloaded from and faxed to central intake. An appointment is booked within two weeks of receiving the physician’s referral. A “comprehensive assessment” by the CEMAC team determines whether the patient requires a consult with a surgeon or a rheumatologist, or needs other care such as an exercise routine or nutrition counselling.

If surgery is the recommended course of action, the patient is referred to one of four orthopaedic surgeons at TSH and RVHS. More surgeons will be added to the roster as the program grows.

“We will book an appointment with the surgeon within six weeks,” Abbas says. “We’re one-stop shopping for patients needing joint replacement surgery. Central intake is located at the Grace campus, where we will manage all the data.”

The program also benefits the surgeons since only those patients who need surgery are sent over.

“Our target is 80 per cent of patients we send to the surgeons truly require surgery,” Abbas adds. “With 1,400 joint replacement surgeries performed this year at TSH alone, it will cut wait times dramatically and save resources.”

Meantime, Mooney is the first of what CEMAC anticipates will be at least 3,000 patients a year seeking their assessment services. And for the 74-year-old retired teacher, the trip to CEMAC is proving to be a life-changing experience.

“I have arthritis in my knee, which causes a lot of pain and affects my mobility,” Mooney explains. “I’m used to being active, and this just holds me back.

“I got the answer I have been looking for and it only took an hour. It’s wonderful. I’m so thrilled!”

As Mooney is assisted by physiotherapist Janet Law back to the front desk, she learns CEMAC has already booked an appointment for a surgeon consult in three weeks’ time.

“I can’t believe it,” Mooney says with a smile. “And until now, no one believed that I was in pain.”

For more information:
David Brazeau
Director, Public Affairs and Community Relations
Rouge Valley Health System
(416) 284-8131 ext. 4010

Dave Bourne
Manager, Corporate Communications
The Scarborough Hospital
416-438-2911 ext. 6836