A new Liver Health Clinic has opened at Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
The clinic can diagnose and provide treatment for patients from Waterloo Region and Wellington County who have liver diseases, including advanced cirrhosis, acute hepatitis and metabolic-associated fatty liver disease.
“We can try to avoid hospital admissions, we can do small procedures in our clinic,” said Dr. Mohammed Omar Sarfaraz, a hepatologist at Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
The hospital said the clinic is the first of its type in a community setting. Typically liver health centres are in larger cities, like Toronto and Hamilton.
“Patients in smaller centers tend to have fragmented care locally or have to travel significant distances,” said Dr. Augustin Nguyen, Chief of Medicine. “Caring for patients with advanced disease is often difficult when there is a lack of coordination and specialists. This fragmented care can lead to increased emergency visits, hospitalizations or referrals for care out of region.”
According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, one in four Canadians may be affected by liver disease in their lifetime. Dr. Nguyen said in Waterloo Wellington, there may be as many as 6,000 to 9,000 patients living with liver disease.
“It’s a fairly unappreciated burden on disease in the community. These conditions can be silent,” Dr. Nguyen said.
Cambridge Memorial Hospital said having the clinic in Waterloo Region can help reduce the up to two year wait time to see a liver specialist. Dr. Sarfarez said patients can now go directly to the clinic instead of going through “so many different checkpoints.”
Cambridge resident Randy, who did not wish to provide his last name, is a patient at the hospital’s Liver Health Centre. He goes there every eight days to get his liver drained.
He used to travel to Toronto for treatment, but now his commute is a lot shorter.
“It’s saving my life,” he said.
Randy is waiting for a liver transplant, but he said in the meantime he’s grateful he has easy access and good care at Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
“Everything I find here is a win, win, win,’ he said.
The clinic officially opened Tuesday, Oct. 12. Referrals by a physician are needed to access the clinic.
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