If you need a knee replacement, would you rather wait three years ... or three months?
Sara Mooney says in most of Canada, it is not uncommon to wait nearly a year to get a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon — and then a two-year wait for the actual surgery.
“A lot of patients feel trapped within the public healthcare system,” says Mooney. “We want them to know they have a choice — a Canadian choice.”
Mooney is the Director of Operations at Centric Health Surgical Centre Toronto — a private surgical facility with inpatient beds and three operating rooms.
Mooney says many patients have received the benefits of having their elective surgery expedited at one of their four surgical facilities throughout Canada, located in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. Through their network, Centric Health has hundreds of provincially certified surgeons and anesthetists, all with local hospital privileges to provide the best care for their patients.
She says some Canadians still believe their only option is to travel to the U.S. or another international destination for expedited elective surgery, but she wants to them to know they have options much closer to home.
“Many family physicians are very cautious about their patients going to the States. If there’s a complication, it may not be covered by the fee the patient paid — and it could get very expensive,” says Mooney. “Here in Canada, they can readily be examined and emergent care is covered by their provincial health plan.”
Even without emergencies, she says surgical procedures are also more expensive south of the border. An expedited knee replacement costs around $50,000 USD at a facility in the U.S., but it would be between $25,000 and $30,000 CDN here in Canada.
Additionally, it isn’t just a matter of expediting care — it’s also about having a say in your service providers and suppliers. Medical innovations are happening all around us every day. If a patient would like to embrace new Health Canada approved technologies, they may find that their local hospital is unable to facilitate the integration and offering of such an option, but a private provider may allow them to choose a more technologically advanced alternative.
“Which would you rather have? The standard device that your provincial plan or hospital has contracted to offer or the best one available at the time?” says Mooney.
She says private healthcare is often misunderstood here in Canada.
“What we’re offering is expedited access to consultation for elective procedures that have been deemed necessary, but are unavailable in a timely manner locally to the patient,” says Mooney.
“There is already a thriving private pay industry in place when it comes to expedited specialty assessments and elective surgery to facilitate return to work plans after an injury. The RCMP, Provincial WCB (Workers’ Compensation Board), Disability Insurers, large self-insured employers and governments at all levels have the ability to pay for their employees to access assessment and when required to have surgery in an expedited fashion.”
Of course, Mooney says it’s not a matter of a patient completely abandoning their provincial healthcare — it’s about choosing an expedited option if you don’t want to wait years for a particular consultation, treatment or procedure.
“Not everyone is a surgical candidate,” Mooney admits. “A consultation is key to evaluating a patient’s situation, and often recommendations or the provision of a non-surgical treatment may facilitate recovery without delay.”
At Centric Health Surgical Centre Toronto, Client Care Coordinators provide guidance throughout the inquiry and intake process, and can even help patients and their families organize their flights and accommodations.
Typically, patients who make inquiries have already been evaluated by their family physician, undergone diagnostics and been told they need a specific elective, not emergent procedure — such as a knee replacement or shoulder rotator cuff repair. Their family physician may be able to give them a rough idea of the wait time, but there’s no telling how long they’ll be stuck in limbo — possibly unable to work, enjoy sports or live their life comfortably.
For those patients who decide that the wait is too long and is impacting their quality of life, a simple telephone call or email to Centric Health Surgical Centre Toronto is the first step.
An initial evaluation of a patient’s situation, diagnostic testing, medical imaging and current medical status will determine if Centric is the right fit. The next step is a video conference with the surgeon to review details, explain the recommended procedure and answer any questions. When appropriate, an in-person consultation and/or surgery can be scheduled.
“Why wait, if you don’t have to?” says Mooney. “You have a choice.”