As an Ontario Medical Association Board Director, I am receiving many letters from physicians concerned about the impact the government’s cuts to physician services could have on patient care. I want to share this letter with you since it underlines the degree to which communities could be affected.
I have known Dr. Niznick, an Ottawa cardiologist, for many years. Many patients have relied on his clinic for their care. The government’s unilateral actions are putting that care at risk. He wrote to Dr. Kapur (OMA District 8 Board Director)and me with his concerns. Dr. Niznick has reviewed this article, including my comments and agreed that it can be published. I am posting it because it’s very important that the public realizes that all physician services will be affected by these cuts.
Here is his letter:
Hello Atul and Gail,
These are difficult and frustrating times. I appreciate the work you have done on our behalf. I am concerned about the incremental cut backs and the reduction in non-invasive cardiac fees.
My larger concern is the imposed deadline for accreditation of all echocardiography labs in the province by April 1, 2016. Whereas I have no doubt that our lab will be accredited and we have made application for that, the process is been exceedingly slow. There’s no possible way all remaining labs can be accredited in the proposed timeline.
The government has stated that any unaccredited labs will not be paid technical fees as of April 1, 2016. When this happens we will have to shut down our laboratory, reduce office nursing, technical and clerical office staff and possibly could force the closure the Ottawa Cardiovascular Centre.
Currently we have a population of 250,000 registered patients with about 40,000 active patients and about 100,000 patient interactions per year. The closure of the OCC would have a huge impact on the delivery of cardiology services in Ottawa. Neither the Ottawa Heart Institute nor The Ottawa Hospital could absorb our volume. Furthermore our practice subsidizes five cardiac nurses to provide telephone patient monitoring for a large variety of conditions. This monitoring often prevents unnecessary visits to the emergency department and proactively deals with issues such as worsening heart failure, atrial fibrillation, anticoagulation issues, progression of angina etc.
The bottom line is that these cutbacks are not as much a matter of money they are a matter of compromising our ability to properly care for our patients. The high-quality model that we have developed and subsidize with our technical and professional revenues will not be sustainable.
Please convey my sentiments to OMA Council.
Joel Niznick MD FRCPC
My thanks to Dr. Niznick for allowing me to publish this.