University of Ottawa Heart Institute patient John Sankey felt "the gradual tension just build" as he waited 103 days for double bypass surgery after his heart valve collapsed last fall.
"You know you're going to get sliced open right from here to here," the 76-year-old Ottawa man told CBC News. "I felt like I was bouncing off the walls and yet all the time, here I was running half speed."
Sankey's story is not unique, as the University of Ottawa Heart Institute has the longest wait time for bypass surgery in the province.
'I felt like I was bouncing off the walls and yet all the time, here I was running half speed.' - John Sankey, on wait for surgery
According to provincial data, 90 per cent of patients in Ontario waited 56 days for bypass surgery from October to December 2015. In Ottawa, 90 per cent of bypass patients waited 90 days within the same time frame.
Hospital administrators under-projected the number of bypass surgeries for 2015-16 fiscal year — planning 1,180 but now expecting 1,295 when the fiscal year ends March 31.
Heather Sherrard, the institute's vice-president of clinical services, said doctors are forging ahead with the yet-to-be-funded surgeries in the hopes that province will fill the budget shortfall — and plan on asking for more funding next fiscal year.
"This year, the demand out-stripped what we thought," she said, adding that there have been 300 to 320 bypass patients on the wait list for the past couple of months.
She said the increased demand is based on the aging population, including more cases of diabetes in which bypass surgery is the recommended treatment.
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins said the ministry is reviewing the institute's request to fund the extra procedures this fiscal year.
He added that the expansion of the institute, which is expected to be complete in 2018, will add two cardiac operating rooms and a surgical intensive care unit to help accommodate more surgeries in the future.
"That's expected … in the medium term, to resolve the challenges that they're currently facing," he said. "We have an obligation to those who live in the Ottawa region to make sure this is fixed."