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'This is an assault on women's health:' doctor

Head of Mature Women's Centre says closure won't save province cash

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Joan Boone, who has accessed services at the Mature Women’s Centre for 20 years, credits the centre for her quality of life today, including her ability to cycle and swim daily.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Joan Boone, who has accessed services at the Mature Women’s Centre for 20 years, credits the centre for her quality of life today, including her ability to cycle and swim daily.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/7/2017 (1049 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The head of the Mature Women’s Centre at Victoria General Hospital says the hub already saves more money each year through its daily programs than the province will by closing it this fall.

"We do procedures to save a tremendous amount of money," medical director Dr. Richard Boroditsky said Wednesday.

Boroditsky said the cost difference in 2016 for patients coming to the program rather than into an operating room amounted to $568,260.

Last week, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) announced it is closing the centre, which had more than 5,000 patient visits last year, to save $160,000 a year.

"The bottom line is: this has been a very unfortunate decision. This is an assault on women’s health — you’re dealing with a scenario where women’s health is not a top priority," Boroditsky said.

Much of what the centre does keeps women out of significantly more expensive operating rooms, he said. "People don’t realize what we do in the hysterectomy alternative program."

The WRHA said it plans to close the centre in mid-October,and its services will either be transitioned back to primary care providers with a treatment plan or referred to community gynecologists.

The WRHA did not dispute Boroditsky’s comparative cost figures Wednesday, but said those are not relevant to the decision.

"While it is generally accurate that surgical procedures performed in an operating room would be more costly than those completed in a procedure room, that statement is not relevant to the procedures at issue here, as they are moving to an available procedure room at a different facility," a WRHA official said. "The work will be absorbed into existing capacity within the system without incurring additional staffing costs or creating new space.

"Staff from the women’s program met with physicians and staff when the announcement was first made regarding the changes to the Mature Women’s clinic and met again with physicians (Tuesday) to reinforce the changes for patients."

The Mature Women’s Centre specializes in dealing with a range of gynecological issues, including menopause transition and hysterectomy alternatives. It was established in 1994 at Health Sciences Centre, then moved to Victoria in 2006. It offers patients a team approach to care that includes doctors and nurses, a pharmacist, dietitian and kinesiologist, the WRHA said.

"They’re dismantling a cost-saving program — it leads to a dispersal of services," Boroditsky said.

"I’m shocked they’re closing it," said Joan Boone, who credits the program for her being active enough to ride a bicycle as she turns 70.

She’s been accessing services at the Mature Women’s Centre for 20 years. "I was even a ribbon-cutter when they opened the new centre," she said.

"My gynecologist referred me because of the special care they provide... It’s just been wonderful care. (Boroditsky has) made my life just so comfortable," Boone said. "Our mothers and grandmothers weren’t offered this kind of care. They just gave up and stayed home.

"We know menopause is for life, so why not have a great life? When I was 50, I suffered."

Boone said her niece was scheduled for a tubal ligation, but instead went to the centre and was helped without invasive surgery.

Public attention has focused on menopausal women, Boroditsky said, adding "we’re (also) dealing with women who aren’t necessarily menopausal."

"I was able to avoid a hysterectomy," said Robin Overwater, who is in her early 40s. "I could probably be a patient for another 10 years, if not longer.

"Dr. Boroditsky has helped a lot of women, and it’s going to put a real strain on the health-care system. He offers a service no one else does."

Neither Boone nor Overwater is certain where she’ll go when the centre closes.

"This is a catastrophic blow to the provision of access to innovative health care for the women of Manitoba," Boroditsky said. "There will be an abrupt termination of our innovative and professional interdisciplinary staff, which includes menopause nurse clinicians, a pharmacist, kinesiologist and a dietician.

"The program is nurse-managed by an interdisciplinary team of health-care professionals who empower women to make choices."

Boroditsky said the Mature Women’s Centre includes "a centre of excellence for the investigation and management of abnormal uterine bleeding, as well as uterine fibroids."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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