Clinic to improve wait-times for patients with knee and hip arthritis

News / Patient Care
By John Pereira

Province announces funding for clinic to improve care for patients across Southeastern Ontario

Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s Rapid Access Clinic occupies an unassuming space on Johnson 7 at our Hotel Dieu Hospital site. When you enter the clinic, it looks just like the many others that are spread out across our two hospital sites, however it’s playing a key role in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s strategy to improve wait-times for hip and knee patients in Ontario.

On January 18, MPP Sophie Kiwala held a media event to announce the Province’s commitment to the clinic, providing roughly $700,000 in funding for this service at KHSC. The funding is part of an investment of more than $37 million, over the next three years, to expand clinics across the province so patients can access the right care faster.

“Ensuring patients with muscle or bone pain get faster access to the help they need, and then treatment, is dramatically changing the experience for patients in our region for the better,” said MPP Kiwala. “This innovative approach to helping and treating our patients is a great step forward for health care in our community.”

Patients are referred to their clinic by their family doctor and are seen by an Advanced Practice Physiotherapist within four weeks. The Physiotherapist is then able to identify if the patient would better be suited to more conservative types of treatment or if they need joint-replacement surgery.

“This clinic and is excellent news for both patients and referring physicians,” said KHSC President and CEO Dr. David Pichora. “We are able to provide a streamlined referral process to ensure patients receive appropriate care in the timeliest fashion possible. As a result, it means reduced wait times for patients who need surgery and faster access to management of arthritis for patients who don’t require surgery.”

Another key feature of the service is that it includes a central intake process for patients across our region. This will balance wait-times between hospitals in Kingston as well as in Belleville, Brockville and Perth/Smiths Falls to ensure that all patients have similar wait-times across the region.

“This really gives patients more choices than ever before,” said Dr. Pichora. “A patient can now choose from the next available appointment at any hospital in Southeastern Ontario or they could choose to wait for an appointment in the hospital closest to their home. They could also request their surgery be done by a specific orthopedic surgeon if they have a preference.”

Currently, about one out of every three adults is affected by musculoskeletal disorders, which impact the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and connective tissues, and make it difficult to perform daily activities.

“KHSC was an early adopter of the hip and knee assessment program and has played a key role in providing the resources for the development and implementation of the rapid assessment centres for the region,” said Dr. David Zelt, Vice-President Clinical at the South East Local Health Integration Network.

As the population in our region grows older, issues such as knee and hip replacements are becoming ever more important. Last fiscal year alone, KHSC performed 310 hip replacements and 481 knee replacements.

“That’s nearly 800 individuals, plus the hundreds more that don’t require surgery but proceed with other types of care, that benefit from this service,” said Dr. Pichora. “We believe that this streamlined regional approach to care will translate into greater patient comfort and satisfaction.”