Ontario Government Celebrates Opening of New Cataract Surgery Clinic

New Centre Of Excellence Will Perform 5,000 New Surgeries, Reduce Wait Times

January 9, 2006 – TORONTO – The Ontario government is improving access to cataract surgeries and reducing wait times with the creation of a new cataract surgery Centre of Excellence, Health and Long-Term Care, Minister George Smitherman announced today.

“The Kensington Eye Institute will significantly increase the province’s capacity for cataract surgeries, and it will reduce wait times,” Smitherman said. “These surgeries will greatly enhance the quality of life for many Ontarians, especially seniors with failing sight.”

“With the opening of the Kensington Eye Institute we are taking a major step forward in proving timely, high quality eye care for our patients with cataracts in the Toronto area,” said Dr. Andrew Budning, Chair of the Ophthalmology section, Ontario Medical Association.

The new Kensington Eye Institute, which opened its doors in downtown Toronto today, will perform 5,000 new, routine cataract surgeries annually. In addition, another 1,700 annual procedures will be moved to Kensington from Toronto’s four acute-care teaching hospitals – University Health Network, Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital and Sunnybrook and Women’s Hospital. This will free up operating rooms at these facilities for more complex eye surgeries.

“We share the government’s vision for quality, efficient care in the most appropriate settings. Congratulations on this innovative initiative,” said Joe Mappa, President and CEO of Mount Sinai Hospital.

“The Kensington Eye Institute will provide a state-of-the-art medical, teaching and research facility, with the latest technology and equipment that will harness under-utilized professional medical resources,” explained Brian McFarlane, CEO of the Kensington Eye Institute. “It is the unique relationship between the institute and four University of Toronto-affiliated teaching hospitals that will allow individual health care providers to deliver innovative services in the most professional, efficient and cost-effective manner possible.”

The new cataract surgery centre of excellence will also be an important University of Toronto training site and will help train Ontario’s future ophthalmologists. Over 30 ophthalmologists will be affiliated with the Kensington Eye Institute and with the University of Toronto teaching faculty.

“Kensington will be an excellent training centre for our eye surgeons of the future,” said Dr. Jeff Hurwitz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto. “Because all of the surgeons at Kensington will be University of Toronto-appointed ophthalmologists, we can ensure that our residents will continue to be trained at the highest level.”

The institute has raised all capital funds through its Kensington Foundation. The government will provide operating funds, estimated to be $5 million annually.

Cataract surgery is a relatively simple surgery well-suited to being performed in an outpatient care facility like Kensington. Providing only cataract surgeries in a single facility will mean a more efficient delivery of this health service.

The Kensington Eye Institute is a not-for-profit corporation licensed as an independent health facility. It is one of almost 1,000 independent health facilities providing publicly-funded services in Ontario’s health care system. There are no charges to patients for provincially insured services at independent health facilities.

This initiative supports the Ontario government’s plan to build a health care system that builds on three priorities – keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and improving access to doctors and nurses.