In Conversation: Dr. Robert Roberts: Looking Ahead to Our Expansion

September 13, 2011

On August 24, 2011, Dr. Robert Roberts, Heart Institute President and CEO, welcomed the Government of Ontario’s commitment to fund detailed plans, renovations and the construction of a new building extension that provides five storeys of additional space to the Heart Institute. The extension will include an extra operating theatre and more beds for surgical patients.

The Beat: How will the building extension and renovations fulfil your vision of the Heart Institute?

Dr. Roberts: We are not only preparing for a new era in cardiovascular medicine, but we are one of the pioneering enablers of this new era. These new facilities will be the physical platform on which we will continue to make the new discoveries and develop the techniques that will transform cardiovascular medicine. We need to extend our presence on the world stage and compete internationally to attract the best young researchers and physicians.

The Beat: How will the renovations and extension meet the projected needs of our patient population?

Dr. Roberts: We have conducted significant analysis to help the Ontario government understand the importance of these needs. When we first submitted our plans in 2007, we already knew that the population of our region in the age group 50 years and older was expected to grow by 60 per cent from 2006 to 2031.

Treatment procedures at the Heart Institute are also expected to grow about 60 per cent over that same period of time. We know this because 90 per cent of our patient population is older than the age of 50. The new construction should take care of our future needs through the 2030s.

The extension and renovations will also offer opportunities to enhance quality of care as well as capacity. For example, moving our life support facilities out of the basement level will greatly improve the flow of seriously ill patients.

The Beat: We have already seen the dramatic impact that additional resources have had at the Heart Institute. Can you remind us of the effect on health care services?

Dr. Roberts: In 2005, my first year as CEO, the premier came to visit the Heart Institute. Our elective cardiac procedures then had wait times of up to four to six months. We explained to the premier that unless we built more laboratories, we could not decrease those wait times. We put together a plan, received necessary funding, and half a year later, our wait times in the Coronary Care Unit had dropped to two to four weeks.

We have a track record of using increased capacity to deliver significant results. This is why the new facility is so exciting and important to the future of the Heart Institute.