April 16, 2018


Expanding Access to Cardiac Care with a Waterloo Wellington Cardiac Program

April 16, 2018 (Kitchener) – St. Mary’s General Hospital, in partnership with the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN), has developed a Strategic Plan for 2018‑2022 to meet the growing needs for cardiac care in Waterloo Wellington. Among the objectives in the plan, which was recently endorsed by WWLHIN board, is expanding services within St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, and into the wider community so Waterloo Wellington residents have more equitable access to highly specialized cardiac care closer to home.

The plan was developed in consultation with approximately 100 stakeholders including patients, referring hospitals, St. Mary’s staff and community organizations. It will be implemented over the next several years through a coordinated network of providers and community partners, led by St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre – a national leader in cardiac quality outcomes.

“A strategic plan sets a vision, objectives and goals and developing this first Waterloo Wellington Cardiac Strategic Plan has helped us focus on future needs and direction,” said St. Mary’s President Don Shilton. Stakeholders felt that access to high quality urgent cardiac care in the region is excellent. They also identified gaps and inefficiencies in care, and in coordination of care between providers, particularly for complex patients who are non-emergent, he said.

“This plan will evolve and is the beginning of a tremendous amount of work and consultation with stakeholders, including patients, to further plan how we can achieve success,” added Dr. Brian McNamara, Chief of Cardiovascular Services at St. Mary’s and Grand River Hospital. “Some of the objectives in the plan will be achieved in the shorter term and some are quite complex and will take longer to achieve.” Seven working groups are in the process of being created and will include patient representation to map out how objectives will be met.


(For a quick look click here)

Partnering with patients

  • Create a strong culture of patient engagement in order to drive quality care and a better patient experience by:
  • Ensuring the patient experience is understood and embedded in our planning and service improvements
  • Involving patients and their families in the service/program delivery process
  • Developing accessible and easy-to-understand educational resources for patients and providers

Expanding access to care

  • Make it easier for patients to access quality, complex cardiovascular services closer to home by:
  • Investing in human resources and infrastructure at St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Centre to best serve patients and offer more advanced services locally
  • Address the need for quality diagnostic testing and access to cardiologist consultation
  • Coordinate cardiac care delivery across the region

Integrating a quality program across the health care system

Spread equal standards of care across Waterloo Wellington

  • Develop a common quality framework for the initiatives in the strategic plan
  • Improve access to and quality of programs for cardiac rehab and heart failure patients
  • Take advantage of technology to make care seamless and easier to access across the region

The cardiac centre at St. Mary’s has been nationally recognized for providing high quality services even as patient demand and complexity has risen significantly. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) identified St. Mary’s as one of three cardiac centres in Canada performing better than the national average on all six cardiac quality indicators measured in a CIHI reporting covering 2013-13 to 2015-16. Also the mortality rate for cardiac surgery at St. Mary’s was less than half the national average.

These excellent results have been achieved even as patient demand and complexity has risen significantly over the last five years.

Between 2012‑2013 and 2017‑2018 St. Mary’s has experienced growth in procedures of approximately:

  • 11% growth in cardiac surgery
  • 30% growth in cardiac catheterizations
  • 98% growth in cardiac angioplasty
  • 98% growth in cardiac angioplasty
  • 60% growth in pacemaker insertions
  • 940% growth in implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) insertions

Activity in 2017-18

  • 854 Valve replacement and bypass surgeries
  • 4,303 Diagnostic cardiac catheterizations
  • 1,493 Angioplasty procedures
  • 459 Pacemaker insertions
  • 179 Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) insertions
  • 10,000 Outpatient clinic visits

Expansion plans in 2018‑2019 include the addition of advanced heart rhythm services (electrophysiology studies and ablation) and less invasive procedures for heart valve replacement. Future infrastructure needs include a third cardiac catheterization lab to handle demand.

“This plan not only builds on the strengths of cardiac services at St. Mary’s, it also envisions partnerships with different health and community organizations so that we can offer enhanced service closer to home,” says Dr. McNamara. “We are very excited to have the support of both the hospital and WWLHIN boards in what will be a community-wide effort to expand services and improve the patient experience.”


Anne Kelly, Manager, Communications

519-749-6578 ext. 1501




NOTE: Cardiac Strategic Plan at a glance document below

Waterloo Wellington Regional Cardiac Program Strategic Plan 2018‑2022

At a glance


The Waterloo Wellington Regional Cardiac Program, led by SMGH’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, supports patients and providers to ensure the delivery of high-quality and patient-centred cardiac care


Create a strong culture of patient engagement to drive quality care and enhance the patient experience in the Regional Cardiac Program


Expand the local delivery of quality, complex clinical services to patients with cardiovascular disease


Strengthen a quality program that is integrated across the health care system


  • Develop a comprehensive patient engagement strategy to support the ongoing delivery of regional cardiac services.
  • Develop and implement care pathways that support the patient’s journey across the continuum of care.
  • Enhance patient education resources to improve the patient experience in the Regional Cardiac Program.
  • Develop and implement comprehensive human resources, infrastructure and program plans for all cardiac services at the Regional Cardiac Care Centre including emerging techniques, procedures and other technological advances in cardiac care to support current and future patient needs.
  • Develop and implement a strategy to preserve current referral patterns and critical mass to ensure ongoing demand for the Regional Cardiac Care Centre to continue to offer highly specialized cardiac services.
  • Plan and coordinate the delivery of cardiac services in the region.
  • Develop a regional governance structure to provide ongoing leadership to the Regional Cardiac Program.
  • Establish a quality assurance and improvement framework and tools for the Regional Cardiac Program.
  • Develop and implement a regional strategy for cardiovascular prevention, promotion and rehabilitation programming.
  • Develop and implement a regional strategy for congestive heart failure patients.
  • Develop a digital health plan for the Regional Cardiac Program to enhance patient care.


  • Patients and their families are active members of their health care teams and in the planning for service and program delivery.
  • Patients have a clear understanding of their care pathways.
  • Patients have confidence in the continuity of their care as they transition between care settings and providers.
  • Patients are empowered to make informed decisions and manage their care as a result of access to digestible and interpreted information
  • Patients in Waterloo Wellington have access to a full service cardiovascular program that is close to home
  • Patients benefit from cardiac care services that are responsive to changing regional needs of the sub-region care communities.
  • Patients have an easier time navigating the health care system thanks to a network of providers that is connected through a single patient portal.
  • There is enhanced equity in care and a reduction of variation of care across the sub-regions as a result of integrated access to specialists and specialty care.
  • A coordinated network of providers delivers integrated cardiac services across the health care continuum under the leadership of the Regional Cardiac Care Centre.
  • A robust quality assurance and improvement framework for cardiac services ensures that patients have access to an equal standard care across the region.
  • All residents have access to prevention and cardiovascular rehabilitation programming that is accessible in a clinical, community, home, or virtual setting based on their individual needs
  • Patients with congestive heart failure will have better health outcomes resulting in fewer hospitalizations as a result of improvements in early detection, programs that help prevent the progression of disease, and primary care and community support to manage their disease effectively.
  • Patients and providers are able to share information and contribute to patient