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Northwestern Ontario hospital surgical programs expanded

Change means less travel and shorter wait time for patients in Thunder Bay and Lake of the Woods
Thunder Bay Regional Summer
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. (

Orthopaedic surgical services have been expanded at hospitals in Thunder Bay and Lake of the Woods, which creates the opportunity for more Northern patients and families to experience the benefits of enhanced care closer to home, said a news release this week from the Thunder Bay regional hospital.

“Our population sees more musculoskeletal disease requiring a higher-than-average use of orthopaedic surgical services,” said Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, President and CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre (TBRHSC) and CEO of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute. The expansion of surgical services also includes the district hospital in Lake of the Woods. 

“We are very pleased to be selected as a spinal surgery site as part of the Regional Surgical Services program,” said Ray Racette, President and CEO, Lake of the Woods District Hospital (LWDH). “Offering this service closer to home and in doing so, helping reduce long wait times for spinal surgery, is critically important for the people we serve.”

The expansion of the spinal surgery program was a collaborative approach that included leadership teams from both hospitals, surgeons, anaesthetists surgical nurses as well as the Northwest Local Health Integration Network (NW LHIN) and Ontario Health who enabled creative funding models to help clear the surgical backlogs created by the pandemic, said the release. 

The availability of this service for patients in Kenora and the surrounding area takes on greater significance when challenges created by COVID-19 such as travel, accommodation and care-giving, especially for children needing surgery are factored in.

“I am absolutely thrilled with our growing partnership with Lake of the Woods District Hospital,” said Dr. David Puskas, Orthopedic Surgeon at TBRHSC. 

"Working together has enabled patients suffering from spinal pathology to receive surgical care and successfully recover closer to home.”

Since launching in April 2016, TBRHSC’s Regional Surgical Services has worked in partnership with the NW LHIN, as well as Dryden Regional Health Care, Riverside Health Care in Fort Frances, and LWDH in Kenora, said the release.