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Michael Garron Hospital partners with Sunnybrook to offer percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) to patients closer to home

July 7, 2021

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Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) has partnered with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to launch an integrated percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) service that provides cardiac care to East Toronto residents closer to home.

PCI is a minimally-invasive procedure that finds and corrects blockages in the heart. Using a thin catheter that’s inserted through an artery in the patient’s wrist or upper thigh, a stent is placed into the heart to open up the narrowed blood vessels and help prevent future heart attacks and cardiac events. It is a non-surgical procedure and most patients go home that same day.

Beginning July 7, MGH will provide PCI to patients who need it at the time of diagnostics in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, a procedure known as ‘same-sitting PCI’.

“Previously, patients seen in MGH’s cardiac catheterization lab were transferred to Sunnybrook for PCI if required,” says Dr. Mohammad Zia, chief of cardiology and director of cardiac services at MGH who also performs procedures at Sunnybrook.

“In offering same-sitting PCI at MGH, we are eliminating the need for a second procedure and reducing barriers for patients by providing them with the care they need sooner and closer to home.”

A strong history of partnership

The opening of MGH as a PCI site is enabled by a strong partnership with the Schulich Heart Program at Sunnybrook, an innovator in cardiovascular care that performs a full spectrum of coronary and valvular procedures for some of the most complex patients in Ontario.

Sunnybrook will lead and serve as a mentor site for PCI at MGH, providing training, education and even physician and staffing resources.

“Sunnybrook and Michael Garron Hospital have partnered for decades to better serve the patients in our respective communities,” says Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera, chief of the Schulich Heart Program at Sunnybrook. “The extension of the PCI service to MGH means more people can get the care they need, where and when they need it.”

Traditionally, PCI was performed only in health care settings with on-site cardiac surgery, like Sunnybrook; however, advances in knowledge and technology have demonstrated that PCI can be delivered safely and effectively in settings without it.

To standardize the quality of care, interventional cardiologists performing PCIs are cross-trained at both Sunnybrook and MGH, and use the same equipment and clinical practices. Because Sunnybrook also has on-site cardiac surgery, a formalized communication and transfer protocol is in place in the event that a patient requires urgent transfer to Sunnybrook’s surgical centre.

The right care in the right place

The East Toronto community is notable for its high incidence of cardiovascular disease. Contributing factors include lower socioeconomic status, advanced age, higher rates of diabetes and ethno-racial characteristics.

“A large proportion of community members in MGH’s catchment area are South Asian, a demographic that is four times more likely to have heart disease due to genetics,” says Dr. Zia. “This new PCI service fills a gap in cardiac care in East Toronto for a community where there is significant need.”

Patients are referred to the integrated PCI service through a central intake at Sunnybrook. They are triaged to the appropriate hospital based on where they live and the nature of their heart condition, ensuring patients receive the right care in the right place.

“Not only does this service mean that patients in East Toronto can be treated closer to home, it also means that more patients requiring specialized, complex cardiac care can be treated at Sunnybrook,” says Dr. Wijeysundera, adding that Sunnybrook will also continue to perform PCIs on site for appropriate patients.

Approximately 200 PCIs will be performed at MGH in the first year. Initially, the program will include low risk elective PCIs two days per week with a gradual and thoughtful approach to transitioning to more complex cases.


Patients needing PCI must be referred by a physician. Physicians can fill out the referral form and e-mail the completed form to centralcardiactriage@sunnybrook.ca.