"Many candidates can’t take time off from their jobs or from family obligations. In some cases they are afraid to go for surgery without having their support group nearby."
Why Cochlear Implant Surgery Should be Done in Both Montreal AND Quebec City.
It is the government’s policy that patients should be treated close to where they live. Yet with 50% of the population of Quebec, Montreal has no Cochlear Implant program, 70%-80% of Quebecers live closer to Montreal than to Quebec City.
Ontario has five centres where they do cochlear implant surgery (Sunnybrook, Sick Children, Ottawa Hospital, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, London Health Sciences Centre). Vancouver, which has almost the same population as Montreal, has two hospitals that perform cochlear implant surgery, one for adults one for children. So why does the entire Province of Quebec only have one?
Quebec can fix the total number of surgeries so splitting them between Montreal and Quebec City does not have to cost a penny extra. In fact, there will be savings since Quebec will no longer have to pay for living and transportation costs for those coming to Quebec City from Montreal. Furthermore, in the long run Quebec makes money by doing more cochlear implant surgeries.
People who are deaf or profoundly deaf are almost always unemployed or under employed due to their handicap. With an implant they will make more money and pay more taxes. In a matter of years the government will recoup the full cost and make a profit from the extra tax revenue. Doing cochlear implant surgery is an investment and smart economically.
Montreal has the doctors who know how to do cochlear implant surgery because they received their training elsewhere and this is standard training at most medical schools across North America. We have the hospitals because 85% of the operation is the same as other surgeries that the doctors are already doing. The audiologists, sociologists and psychologists to do the assessments of candidates are already here at MAB-MacKay and the Raymond Dewar Institute. They equally know how to program the speech processors as they do the readjustments already. They have been trained by the vendors who sell the speech processors. We have the trained specialists, we have the facilities, we have the rehabilitation programs why is the Quebec government not allowing the surgery?
Currently wait times for a cochlear implant in Quebec City are up to two and a half years. With the about 70% of the operations done in Montreal, wait times would drop dramatically for those candidates in Quebec City. They would also be under a year in Montreal. It is simple math. More surgeons doing cochlear implant surgery means shorter wait times.
Bill Steinberg had a life long hearing loss which progressed to the point where he was profoundly deaf. In 2004 he got the surgery and the next year he ran for Mayor of the Town of Hampstead. He went from being a shy, quiet person who rarely talked since he couldn’t hear what people were saying to someone outgoing enough with his new ability to hear that he won the election and he is now in his 13th year as Mayor. It would have been impossible without the implant. He was lucky that he could afford the time to go to Quebec City. Now he is working with a group of dedicated doctors and audiologists to try to get the surgery done in Montreal. He wants others to experience the miracle of a cochlear implant. However, many candidates can’t take time off from their jobs or from family obligations. In some cases they are afraid to go for surgery without having their support group nearby. This applies equally to Francophones and Anglophones. It is tragic and shameful that these people, often poor or lower middle class are being denied such life changing surgery. Read more receipients' stories
Montreal has top medical schools and surgical training programs for ear surgery but the ministry of health does not allow them to offer training in cochlear implant surgery. It is standard training which should be available here. This is leaving a gap in the training of new surgeons in Montreal and negatively impacting the post graduate medical education in Montreal and the province of Quebec. Cochlear implant training programs are standard in all major medical schools internationally including the developing world.
Montreal is doing world class research in the field of cochlear implants. It is a shame that no clinical program exists to complement this research.