Arthritis Consumer Experts

November 12, 2020
For Immediate Release


Southlake Regional Health Centre’s decision to close The Arthritis Program (TAP), due to its budget deficit, is a short-sighted, regrettable decision that will have immediate negative impacts on patients in Newmarket and surrounding regions in Ontario. Neither the clinical leaders who have run and operated TAP for over 25 years or TAP’s patient family advisory committee were consulted prior to the decision being made.

According to Dr. Carter Thorne, Chief, Division of Rheumatology and Director of TAP: “When the program closes in January 2021, more than 2,000 arthritis patients will lose access to vital treatment and care in the middle of the COVID pandemic.”

For these patients, like Carrie Barnes, a person living with rheumatoid arthritis, TAP is life-changing and irreplaceable: “Losing this program will add additional stress, anxiety, and potentially negative health consequences to an already vulnerable patient population.”

TAP is the gold standard for all other rheumatology clinics in Canada based on a close working collaboration between TAP’s clinicians and their patients. At a clinical level, TAP has received awards and been recognized for best practices in community arthritis care, including:
  • utilizing a team of interdisciplinary care providers
  • training students (from multiple universities) on a team approach to arthritis conditions that is not just effective but cost effective
  • providing patient education to improve self-management strategies
TAP’s benefit to patients has been most profound in terms of initiating early treatment of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and educating patients to be a partner in all aspects of their care.

“TAP’s model of care for inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis, which educates the patient to be a partner in their care, provides savings as opposed to cycling through expensive medications or requiring costly joint replacement surgeries. Rather than closing TAP, our healthcare system should be looking at establishing TAP style, team-based arthritis care in communities across the country,” said Cheryl Koehn, President and Founder, Arthritis Consumer Experts.
TAP has also saved the Ontario health-care system millions of dollars annually by reducing the need for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, joint replacements and expensive biologics through the early assessment, diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory arthritis diseases.

“Ontario’s healthcare system is already overburdened and facing serious pandemic budget deficits, why add additional pressure by shutting down a Centre that is saving lives and saving money?” asked Dr. Thorne.

Arthritis Consumer Experts and other arthritis patient organizations and the Ontario Rheumatologist Association are urging all stakeholders to work together to reverse this ill-considered decision and keep TAP open to help patients manage their chronic disease. In doing so, the Ontario Government will continue to realize the long-term savings and support the health and well-being of Ontario residents living with inflammatory arthritis.

Additional resources:
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For further information, please contact:
Kelly Lendvoy
Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs
Arthritis Consumer Experts
(604) 974-1129