St. Mary’s Needs Third Cardiac Catheterization Suite for Safe and Timely Response to Growing Demand for Life-Saving Services

Improving access to diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening cardiac issues is the goal of a $2.8 million campaign to equip St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre with a much-needed third cardiac catheterization suite.

Demand for service at the centre, ranked one of Canada’s best, has outstripped capacity in two existing suites, which form the foundation of the cardiac program. A third will allow for more procedures, reduce wait times and ensure timely access to life-saving services.

“Th­e volume of procedures performed through catheterization at St. Mary’s has grown over the last number of years and will reach well beyond 6,500 this year,” says Dr. Brian McNamara, Chief of Cardiovascular Services at St. Mary’s. “Our resources are stretched beyond capacity and our volumes are comparable to what other centres accomplish with three or four suites. With procedures projected to grow substantially in the next five years, there is significant risk to patient care unless a third catheterization suite is added.”

Catheterization is a procedure in which a long narrow tube (catheter) is inserted into a main artery and guided into the heart. An x-ray dye is injected through the tube, allowing the cardiologist to view chambers, valves, and coronary arteries. Angioplasty, the most common intervention, is a procedure in which a stent is placed through the tube to open blocked arteries and either prevent or treat a heart attack.

The current two catheterization suites have expanded hours to accommodate a minimum of 20 procedures each weekday. However, at any given time, there are another 200 or more patients waiting at least six weeks for their appointment. Cardiac emergencies require immediate response, further extending waits.

The burgeoning demand has also increased wear and tear on equipment and staff.

“The catheterization cameras require frequent maintenance, which can put the suite out of commission for up to a week,” says Andrea Lemberg, Director of St. Mary’s Cardiac Program. “Th­is can drastically impact wait times and cause significant anxiety for our patients, many of whom are already feeling quite vulnerable,” she said.

Community investment is needed to fund the full cost of equipment as the Ontario government does not fund hospital equipment purchases, only operating and staffing costs.

To make a donation, visit, call 519-749-6797, or drop by St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation office at 911 Queen’s Blvd, Kitchener.

By The Numbers

St. Mary’s Among Canada’s Best

In a 2017 report on 38 Canadian cardiac centres by the Canadian Institute for Health Information St. Mary’s performed better than the national average across all six quality indicators from 2013-14 to 2015-16.

The report found the mortality rate for cardiac surgery at St. Mary’s was less than half the national rate. The Ottawa Heart Institute and Vancouver General Hospital were also in the top three.

For more information and to arrange interviews contact:

Amy Hazelwood, Director of Communications
St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation
C: 226-929-0235
T: 519-749-6539