THUNDER BAY — Surgeons based in Thunder Bay will perform hip or knee replacements on hundreds of Manitoba residents under an agreement with that province's health ministry.
Manitoba has negotiated a pilot project with Big Thunder Orthopedic Associates which will launch at the end of this month with six patients.
It's expected the program will expand to provide care for as many as 20 to 30 patients per month, or around 300 procedures annually.
The surgeries will be performed in Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora as the program is fully implemented.
"We are excited to be part of this pilot project with Manitoba that will benefit patients from both sides of the border," said Dr. David Puskas of Thunder Bay Orthopedic Associates.
"We have created the capacity to accomplish Ontario wait times and provide assistance to our neighbouring province. This relationship acknowledges the movement of patients between the two provinces and softens the border so Canadians can receive care where and when they need it," Puskas added.
In announcing the agreement Wednesday, Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the government is exploring every avenue to obtain care for people sooner because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays, pain and other challenges for patients and their families.
Gordon said Manitoba physicians will work closely with out-of-province providers to ensure a smooth process from planning for surgery to post-operative care when patients return home.
The province is also expanding its relationship with a private health care provider in North Dakota where Manitoba residents recently started getting spinal surgeries.
Starting next month, hip or knee surgeries will also be available there.
In addition, Manitoba has signed an agreement to have hip surgeries performed at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio starting next month.