Manitoba looks to expand out-of-province care to cardiac patients

Manitoba looks to expand out-of-province care to cardiac patients

The Manitoba government is aiming to send more patients out of the province for faster health care.

The province is working on a deal that would give heart patients the option of being treated elsewhere, but critics wonder if the progressive Conservative government is serious when it says the option for out-of-province care is only temporary.

The new order would send some patients who need an angiogram to have their heart problem diagnosed to the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

The test, which uses X-rays to visualize the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, can be performed at the clinic’s cardiac catheterization labs in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida.

However, the provincial government accidentally leaked this news.

Tweet sent by mistake

It sent out a tweet Tuesday, which it quickly deleted, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

“A tweet regarding this agreement was prematurely and erroneously canceled and has since been deleted,” a government spokesman confirmed on Thursday.

“The Task Force on Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery can confirm that work is ongoing and information on the work, including that which is eligible, will be officially released as soon as possible.”

The Mayo Clinic declined to answer questions about Manitoba’s plans.

It’s no surprise that the province wants to send more patients for medical care outside of the jurisdiction, given that the province has pre-existing agreements and pledged to consider more partnerships.

When a coronary angiogram is performed, cardiologists inject a dye into a main artery and look for a blockage or narrowing of the blood vessels. (Radio Canada)

Last year, 143 patients were sent to northwestern Ontario, North Dakota and Ohio for hip, knee and spine surgeries.

Manitoba made the arrangements to try to reduce the waiting list for these procedures within the province. The government will cover all expenses, including travel and accommodation, for eligible individuals willing to travel to receive their procedure more quickly.

The new contract with the Mayo Clinic would be the first diagnostic service the task force is offering outside of Manitoba focused on reducing pandemic-era residues.

More than a year ago, this task force said it would try to move patients elsewhere if they couldn’t get their procedure done in Manitoba on time.

The fact that those transfers are still happening worries Manitoba Liberal leader Dougald Lamont.

“We’ve known about this emergency for over a year … and these are still new contracts that they’re announcing,” he said.

The province said it is also working to build local surgical and diagnostic capacity so future Manitobans can be treated quickly without having to leave the province.

Uzoma Asagwara, the NDP’s health critic, argues the government is not focusing fast enough on fixing the health system here.

“It is disappointing to see that they are once again prioritizing healthcare in the United States instead of investing in and strengthening healthcare here at home in Manitoba.”

A spokeswoman for Health Secretary Audrey Gordon said the out-of-province arrangements had been viewed positively by patients who had chosen to participate.

“We want to provide Manitobans with the best possible care as we move closer to clearing the backlog, and we encourage more Manitobans to inquire about these partnerships.”

Dozens more surgeries booked

In addition to the 143 operations already completed, 81 procedures have been booked and 89 more are in progress, the province said.

News of the new patient agreement has “mixed feelings” among doctors, Doctors Manitoba said.

“While any action to get patients cared for sooner is welcome news, instead of focusing on capacity building right here in Manitoba, we are concerned about the growing number of care contracts in other provinces or across the United States,” Keir said Johnson, spokesman for the Physicians’ Advocacy Group, said in a statement.

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