“Our (Niagara) population requires more access to MRI services, not less. … Niagara’s MRI wait-times has severely increased and is now not in a position reasonably accommodate the residents of Niagara’s immediate medical needs leaving residents with an unreasonable wait as their health deteriorates.” – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates in an Open Letter, dated October 14th, 2020, to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott
An Open Letter from Niagagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates
Posted October 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
To Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario & Minister of Health Ministry of Health from Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates
I am writing to you today regarding an urgent request from Niagara Health to fund a third MRI machine and operating hours to provide 16 hours of service, 7 days per week.
This request comes from the fact that Niagara’s MRI wait-times has severely increased and is now not in a position reasonably accommodate the residents of Niagara’s immediate medical needs leaving residents with an unreasonable wait as their health deteriorates. In 2016, the House unanimously adopted my motion to provide funding to clear Niagara’s MRI backlog.
Currently, there are only two machines that service Niagara’s population of 450,000. In 2016 the average wait-time for an MRI was 134 days.
As of January 2020, the average wait-time for P4 patients had increased to 135 days. To compound matters, the pause in providing nonurgent MRI’s due to the pandemic has meant that as of August 20th, the wait-list is now 8652 patients or an average of 360 days.
Simply put, residents cannot wait this long for what could be potentially life saving information. Beyond the life saving medical information this can provide, it would alleviate the stress that many residents go through while waiting for the outcome of these tests.
I have also learned that Niagara Health has reached out to the Ministry of Health more than once with the request for operational funding but has yet to receive a definitive answer.
While we understand the stress this pandemic has put on our healthcare system, we must ensure that our local health agencies are given the responses they need in an appropriate time frame.
A lack of correspondence from your Ministry means that the health agency is unaware if this request has been accepted or denied and cannot plan for next steps.
Recognizing this serious issue, the community has even raised the funds itself to purchase the new MRI unit but given the lack of commitment to operational funding, the unit has yet to be purchased or commissioned. Minister, looking at the situation it is clear that we urgently need this funding.
The community should not have to raise funds itself to provide its own healthcare. Seniors make up a higher percentage of our local community than they do elsewhere in the province. Furthermore, Niagara’s population experiences higher rates of chronic conditions than the provincial average.
This means that our population requires more access to MRI services, not less. Given this fact and the unmanageable wait-list we are currently facing I am requesting that you urgently review Niagara Health’s business case for a third MRI machine and approve funding for the hours to get this backlog under control. This pandemic has been tough on all of us, but especially those who need medical treatment.
While many have forgone visits and procedures, we cannot let their sacrifice result in a backlog that denies them from getting the care they need in a reasonable time under the circumstances.
We are slowly learning to live in the reality of this pandemic but that reality cannot mean residents of Niagara do not have access to the MRI’s they need to make decisions about their health.
Such a policy would only compound the problems and add additional an burden on our healthcare system as their conditions worsen. Even worse, it leaves people in pain waiting for these diagnostic scans.
Even though we are facing a particularly stressful period for healthcare in Ontario we cannot lose sight of their medical needs. As such, I am requesting that Niagara Health’s requests be approved as they are without needing to further take this discussion to the floor of the Legislative Assembly.
Sincerely, Wayne Gates MPP Niagara Falls, Fort Erie & Niagara-on-the Lake
To view a copy of Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates’ Open Letter, click on –[cid:image005.png@01D6A23C.62503750]
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