Estimated 11,000 Ontarians died waiting for surgeries, scans in past year

Long wait times for surgeries, MRI and CT scans are putting thousands of Ontario patients at risk. Tina Yazdani speaks with one woman about her difficult journey navigating the healthcare system.

An estimated 11,000 Ontarians have died while waiting for surgeries, MRIs and CT scans in the past year.

Jordanna Bialo, a 38-year old patient who became sick in October 2020, is one of many patients who are fearfully navigating the current healthcare system desperately searching for an answer.

“I’m medically burnt out. It’s a fight. I have a little son, he’s five years old, and I promised him I would be at his wedding,” said Bialo. “That’s why I fight – for my family. It’s a full time job. It’s a full time job to be a patient right now.”

It took three years for doctors to diagnose Bialo with a rare genetic tumour syndrome called Cowden syndrome.

Bialo is also waiting to receive a double mastectomy, which is minimum a year wait.

“I am full of these tumours that can turn any minute – it’s like Russian roulette and I just have to continue to keep pushing.”

Jordanna Bialo and her son.

Jordanna Bialo and her son. (Courtesy of Jordanna Bialo)

In July, Bialo had a hysterectomy after waiting a year and a half to see a gynaecologist, spending months on a waitlist. Recently, doctors found four more tumours on her back, but getting a CT scan has been difficult.

“They told me I need imaging done sooner than later, I’ve been on the phone with the hospital for the last two weeks, nobody answers,” said Bialo. “I’m constantly waiting, it’s a battle.”

Bialo isn’t alone in her frustrations, as only 56 per cent of patients who need CT scans and 35 per cent of patients who need MRIs receive them within their target time.

The surgical waitlist in Ontario surpasses 200,000 people.

This comes off the back of a 21-page report from CUPE’S Ontario Council of Hospital Unions that found hospital staff vacancies have grown dramatically, increasing 19 per cent over the last year, and currently 37,00 positions remain unfilled.

“We are one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world and we can afford, and we have a moral responsibility, to provide quality care to the people of this province,” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is calling on the Ford government to make significant investments before it’s too late.

Their new research report shares the stark consequences of the long waits, as more than 2,000 people died on waiting lists for surgeries last year, up almost 50 per cent from the year before.

Another 9,400 patients died waiting for MRIs and CT scans.

Bialo says she is fighting with everything she has to not to be one of those numbers.

“The hardest part is my son, my little guy. He’s the most amazing kid in the world, and he is suffering seeing me sick,” said Bialo. “I have to get better for him.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Health said, “The government is expanding capacity across the province, getting shovels in the ground for nearly 60 hospital developments over 10 years that will add thousands of beds across the province, to connect Ontarians to the care they need now and into the future.”

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