FREDERICTON (GNB) – A second pilot site in a project aimed at reducing cataract surgery wait times is now open in Miramichi. The new clinic will increase the number of surgeries per week from 25 to 75. This will help clear the backlog of patients who have been waiting over a year for this procedure.

The services will be offered by health-care providers in the region and the costs will be covered by Medicare. The partnership between the Horizon Health Network and the Miramichi Cataract Surgical Centre will free up surgical rooms at the Miramichi Regional Hospital.

Health Minister Bruce Fitch, interim president and CEO of Horizon Health Network Margaret Melanson and trustee Suzanne Johnson visited Miramichi today to highlight the importance of the pilot site, which is valued at nearly $2.3 million a year.

“We are pleased to be expanding this pilot project to Miramichi, this will give us more opportunity to see the impact this initiative can have to reduce wait times for the residents of our province,” said Fitch. “It’s wonderful to see some patients who have been waiting for more than a year are getting the care they need.”

There are nearly 700 patients in the Miramichi region waiting for cataract surgery, including many who have been waiting for over a year.

“This innovative initiative aligns perfectly with Horizon’s key priorities of improving access to surgeries and the overall patient experience, not just for those awaiting cataract surgery but also those experiencing long waits for other surgical procedures,” said Melanson.

Dr. Nir Shoham-Hazon, one of the surgeons participating in the pilot project, said the initiative is already making a significant impact.

Access to surgery is a key part of the provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action, which aims to develop an integrated health system, ensuring New Brunswickers have access to timelier and improved care.