Guelph General Hospital (GGH) is teaming up with a Kitchener-based surgical eye centre to clear up its massive backlog of around 2,400 to 2,700 people needing cataract surgeries.
With it, they are hoping to finalize the training and technical pieces needed to start seeing patients as early as July 29.
"I think the key piece that is important is that Clear Vision Surgical is an extension to the hospital for this time period," Melissa Skinner, VP of patient services and chief nursing executive at GGH.
"We've been granted time to do those extra cases, but those cases are still Guelph General Hospital cases that are done by our opthamologists, and they're people on our wait lists."
“We are excited to help support the community of Guelph and surrounding area by partnering with Guelph General Hospital to complete cataract procedures and help reduce the wait times,” Mark Recine, the chief operating officer at Clear Vision Surgical, added in a news release.
Skinner said patients and the opthamologists will work together to determine whether their procedure is done at GGH or the Clear Vision Surgical location near Sportsworld Drive in Kitchener.
Back in March, the possibility of a partnership excited GGH, so they looked into what was in place at both St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener and Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
Cambridge Memorial recently partnered up with Clear Vision in February, while St. Mary's teamed up with Waterloo-based TLC Vision in May 2021.
"They had nothing but great feedback on their relationships that they developed," Skinner said. "And so we thought we would do the same."
The hope is to see about 20 patients a day, running once a week.
From there, Skinner hopes to expand to two days a week, "which means we'd have about 40 patients a week we'd be able to see there, which is almost letting us double our current volumes because we currently do about 40 at the hospital."
Long considered an elective surgery, Skinner said the "need for improved vision is anything but elective."
"They really do impact people's quality of life, their ability to work, their ability to function," she said.
It took about four months to get from the point of beginning to explore the idea, to when they hope to see the first patients.
The partnership expires at the end of September, but Skinner hopes and is optimistic Ontario Health will grant an extension.