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N.S. government renting operating room time at another private clinic

The provincial government designated the Halifax clinic as a hospital this week, a formality that allows surgeons to bill the province for cataract removals performed there. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)
The provincial government designated the Halifax clinic as a hospital this week, a formality that allows surgeons to bill the province for cataract removals performed there. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is once again renting operating room space at a private clinic, in an effort to try to lower waiting times for cataract surgeries.

The three-year deal between the province and Vision Group Canada allows surgeons to use the corporation's Lasik MD location in Halifax for up to 7,200 surgeries a year.

The province is paying $790 per case, which means the corporation stands to make as much as $5.7 million a year from the agreement.

Health Minister Michelle Thompson said leasing operating room time means more people should have their cataracts removed sooner.

Thompson said on Friday that operating room time "is at a premium across the province."

"We know that we need to maximize space and we've said all along that we will look for these public-private partnerships," she said.

'We expect them to uphold the quality'

The provincial cabinet designated the Halifax clinic a hospital on Tuesday, a formality that allows surgeons to bill the province for their work and, according to Thompson, ensures the facility is run to the same standard as any other publicly run health centre.

"Care should be no different," said Thompson. "We expect them to uphold the quality."

This is similar to an arrangement already in place with Halifax Vision which began last fall, according to Brian Taylor, director of communications at the Department of Health and Wellness.

"This fiscal year, Halifax Vision is on track to complete over 5,000 publicly funded cataract cases by March 31, 2024."

Orthopedic surgeons have been using Scotia Surgery operating rooms in Dartmouth for 15 years.

According to the province's wait time website — people are waiting three months to a year to see a specialist. Receiving the procedure takes another three to nine months.

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