May 28, 2020

Winnipeg
11° C, Light rain showers

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Association head says long waits for echocardiograms here unique

Dr. Chris Simpson says the issue of long wait times for echocardiograms in Manitoba is easy to address.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dr. Chris Simpson says the issue of long wait times for echocardiograms in Manitoba is easy to address.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/1/2015 (1961 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE president of the Canadian Medical Association says there’s "no excuse" for the long waits experienced by Manitobans for a key test that detects and tracks heart disease.

Dr. Chris Simpson, who is also chief of cardiology at Queen’s University and medical director of the cardiac program at Kingston General Hospital, said the huge wait list for non-urgent echocardiograms in Winnipeg is unusual for Canada.

"I think the echocardiogram wait time is the worst problem," Simpson said Tuesday in reaction to a new report on the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Cardiac Sciences Program (CSP).

"The (wait) times are a problem in Manitoba. It is unique in Canada. The waits for echos are not as bad in the rest of Canada," he said.

The WRHA commissioned the University of Ottawa Heart Institute to examine its $100-million cardiac program, centred at St. Boniface Hospital. The institute found there are several things the CSP does well, including its "excellent" response to heart failure. But it also pointed out several areas of concern, including a lack of focused research, management issues, excessive numbers of non-urgent cardiac-surgery cancellations and a 4,000-person wait list for echocardiograms, which diagnose and monitor heart disease.

Simpson said the echocardiogram issue in Manitoba is easy to address because the technology is not as expensive as with other medical tests.

"Ultrasound machines are cheap — there really is no excuse for your long waiting for echos," he said.

As well, he said, an echo technologist can be trained to operate the machine either in a community college or at a hospital.

Simpson said getting timely echocardiograms is essential for people who have cardiac issues.

"The reason it is so important is it is a preliminary test to everything else. You can’t have your angiogram or bypass until you get the echo.

"If they want to start somewhere, this is where they should start."

Progressive Conservative health critic Myrna Driedger said there were several troubling issues raised by the report, many of which have been brought to her attention by doctors and nurses in the past.

She said she’s heard morale within the Cardiac Sciences Program is low and there has been a significant staff turnover in some areas.

Driedger is particularly concerned about the number of cardiac-surgery cancellations and the long waits for echocardiograms.

Information obtained by the Tories through freedom of information legislation showed there were 303 cardiac surgeries rescheduled in Winnipeg in the first 10 months of last year.

"Some of them get as far as the preop area, and they’re cancelled. That is not acceptable. That’s not good health care," Driedger said.

She said long waits for an echocardiogram have been a concern for years.

"You’re not even going to get on a surgery (wait) list unless you find out if you have a problem, and if you can’t get your echo, you’ve still got a long way to go (before treatment)," the PC critic said.

The WRHA said it performs 19,000 to 20,000 echocardiograms each year and has enlisted the support of the privately operated Maples Surgical Centre to ease the load on city hospitals.

The University of Ottawa report called the 4,000-patient wait list for echos "unacceptable."

Dr. Brock Wright, the WRHA’s senior vice-president and chief medical officer, said the region is short of trained technologists. It is asking existing staff at Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital whether they are willing to work additional hours to reduce the backlog. It is also seeing if more tests can be done on weekends.

"We agree that the wait time is too long, and we agree that we need more capacity," Wright said this week.

There is no training done in Manitoba for performing echocardiograms. The WRHA is trying to develop a partnership with an out-of-province college to train more technologists, Wright said.

 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

Read full biography

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us