It’s the art of the possible thanks to a visionary GGH team

At times, the pandemic forced Ontario hospitals to severely cut back the number of elective surgeries performed in order to free up hospital beds and staff to care for patients suffering from COVID-19. These slowdowns created long wait times and waitlists for our community.

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 40 and are the principal cause of blindness in the world.

In order to do more procedures, and have patients seen more quickly, Guelph General Hospital (GGH) has partnered with Clear Vision Surgical (CVS) located between Cambridge and Kitchener. This partnership is an extension of the eye care program at GGH and is a model already tried and tested by Cambridge Memorial Hospital which partnered with CVS earlier this year.

At GGH, cataract surgeries are performed every week. With this extension, patients can choose the best site to have their surgery. The partnership will allow GGH to optimally double the number of surgeries every week.

This partnership was made possible thanks to healthcare leaders within Guelph General Hospital.

Melissa Skinner, vice-president of patient services and chief nursing executive at GGH, was at the beginning stages of this initiative.

“It started off as an idea. With the backlog of cataract surgeries, this partnership seemed like a way we could do things differently. We naturally saw it as the right thing to do for our patients. And although complicated at first— as a team we made it happen,” Skinner explained.

Thanks to the mentorship of the Cambridge Memorial Hospital and an amazing core GGH team, the idea started to become a reality. It took about five months to execute logistics such as maintaining the privacy of health records, setting up operational computer systems, and training staff for appointment booking, but by the end of July 2022, the program was off the ground.

On Friday, July 29th (the official start day) 14 GGH patients were cared for at CVS. Jennifer Longo, Manager of OR and Steven Keller, Informatics Analyst from IT, were on-site to ensure everything went smoothly. It did, and the patients were delighted with the new facility and the care they received.

Meanwhile, at GGH, teams are continuously striving to create further efficiencies. The new CVS site allows GGH to increase the capacity for cataract procedures by 25-30% per week. Currently, the OR is working back at 100% capacity.

GGH’s Chief of Ophthalmology, Dr. Sylvia Rodriguez remarked, “Good vision is critical to the health and wellbeing of our community. I am grateful for the incredible GGH team members who have worked so hard to get this project up and running in such a short amount of time to improve surgery wait times and restore vision.”

As we celebrate this success, we also celebrate our donors who support important programs like cataract surgery by funding essential patient-care equipment. In fact, in 2017 a state-of-the-art microscope was funded by the Lion’s Club of Guelph to give the best possible clarity to ophthalmologists in surgery.