It was 15 years ago that I was asked to help grow the new cardiac program at St. Mary’s. In those days, it was in the early stages, offering diagnosis through catheterization, stent placements to open arteries, and by-pass surgery. But for patients who required a special surgical procedure, their treatment option still meant waiting and traveling for care to the established programs in London, Hamilton, or even Toronto. Without a complete program, stress was put on the patient and, of course, their family as well.
During my time here, I’ve witnessed incredible growth. We’ve hired top talent and added services, saving and extending patients’ lives year-over-year through many advances in technique and technology. St. Mary’s has developed a reputation for excellence, providing diagnostic, interventional, pacemaker, surgical, and rehabilitation expertise. Today, St. Mary's Regional Cardiac Centre is one of the best in Canada. This is remarkable for a community hospital that serves over a million people from Waterloo and Wellington County to Brant and Grey-Bruce Counties. I’m proud to have played a role in that journey.
I don't think anyone imagined that when the cardiac program first opened its doors, Waterloo Region would be on the map as it is now, attracting so many to the area. Or of the demand that new residents and the rise of heart disease in our aging community would have on our facilities.
The reality is, the footprint of St. Mary’s cardiac program has remained very much the same as it was nearly two decades ago. Can you imagine that? For St. Mary’s cardiac surgeons, like myself, the number of patients we are healing each year is now two or three times that of my peers in other cardiac programs across the country. It’s true.
Despite improved efficiencies, new technology, and many creative solutions to manage patient care, the reality is we cannot keep up this pace without expansion. For example, we have the same two cardiac catheterization suites, supported by the same six recovery beds we had back in 2005.The physicians and staff of this area have doubled their hours – working late into the evening, and often times beyond. They are diagnosing and treating the same number of patients other programs care for with three, or even four suites. You can see the strain in the wait times, and in the face of every team member who feels the weight of responsibility on their shoulders.
I’m writing to you because your help is needed to change the situation. It is urgent. The entire cardiac program at St. Mary’s needs to expand. Like dominos, you can’t adjust or improve one area of patient care, without affecting another. The problem is not insurmountable, but it requires significant investment from the community. The level of care you’ve come to expect is because of the partnership between donors like yourself and our dedicated clinical team. But now, we need your help again. I’ve seen what can be accomplished when we work together, and I’m asking you now to help grow the Cardiac Centre to serve your loved ones, friends and neighbours here at home.
I thank you in advance for the investment you make in St. Mary’s.
Dr. Yves LeClerc, MD
St. Mary’s General Hospital