Windsor Regional Hospital is offering patients with hip, knee and low back pain quicker access to specialized care at two new Rapid Assessment Centres (RACS) that opened this week.
The centres use a coordinated intake and triage process to reduce wait times and get patients access to the right education and treatment options which could include referrals to a surgeon or other non-surgical options like physiotherapy or injections.
At the centres, patients are assessed by specially-trained Advanced Practice Physiotherapists who determine the most appropriate individual treatment plan. Patients who may require surgery are referred to the surgeon of their choice, or the first available surgeon. Patients who don’t require surgery receive education, resources, a self-management plan and follow-up visits to monitor their progress.
Previously, patients waited in pain for months or even years for a consultation with a surgeon, sometimes only to find out they did not need or qualify for surgery. Now, all referrals go to one location – the RAC – where patients receive an appointment with the Advance Practice Physiotherapist within weeks.
“It is a quicker way to get patients into the system and get them started down the right care path,” says Rosemary Petrakos, Vice President of Peri-Operative, Surgery, Women’s and Children’s. "It will take pressure off the system by removing patients who don’t need surgery from already long waiting lists and get them appropriate treatment early on, when it can have the greatest impact.”
The RACS are part of a provincial healthcare initiative to provide all Ontarians with timely access to care, close to home. Windsor Regional Hospital, in partnership with the Erie St. Clair LHIN, now offers two RACs, each with different treatment programs.
The Hip and Knee RAC is located on the first floor of the Metropolitan Campus. The program is for patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions, who may be considering hip or knee replacement surgery.
Hip and knee assessments are also offered at RAC locations in Chatham and Sarnia. Patients can choose to have an assessment at the location nearest to them or the first available assessment at any of the locations.
The Low Back RAC is located on the first floor of the Ouellette Campus. This program is for people who have had low back pain and/or related leg symptoms (e.g. leg pain, numbness and/or tingling) for at least 6 weeks, but not longer than a year. Patients learn to manage chronic low back pain while reducing unnecessary tests, opioid prescriptions, specialist appointments and emergency visits.
Rana Holland visited the Low Back RAC on opening day and was pleased with the speedy access to treatment. Having gone through the system with her husband who waited nearly a year to see a surgeon and two years for surgery, she appreciates the new approach that allowed her to speak with a specially trained physiotherapist within weeks of seeing her family doctor.
“Someone like me, I just needed to speak to the right person and learn how to manage my pain before it got out of control. There was no need for me to muddy up the system with unnecessary tests and long waits to see a surgeon,” Holland said. “The RACs allow patients like me, who don’t need to see a surgeon, to get fast access to treatment. They also fast track things for people who truly need surgery, like my husband, by getting the rest of us out of the way and off of the waiting list.”
All RAC patients must be referred to the clinic by a doctor or nurse practitioner. Visits are fully covered by OHIP.
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METROPOLITAN CAMPUS: 1995 Lens Avenue, Windsor, ON N8W 1L9
1030 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor, ON N9A 1E1