Windsor PET/CT clinic devastated by government plans to cut funding

Precision Diagnosing Imaging has run a PET/CT scanning clinic since 2011. Dr. Kevin Tracey runs the clinic and said he was told the province would no longer be supporting the program.

'I feel like I've been mugged,' says Dr. Kevin Tracey

Dr Kevin Tracey says he was shocked, saying there was no warning from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and Cancer Care Ontario that they were going to cut their funding. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Staff at the only clinic that has been providing PET/CT scans in Windsor-Essex for the past seven years say they were completely blindsided by news their funding would be cut when a new provincially-funded scanner is installed at Windsor Regional Hospital.

"I feel like I've been mugged," said Dr. Kevin Tracey, who was told just a few hours before the hospital made its announcement about the new equipment on Thursday that the province would no longer be supporting his program.

Tracey is still coming to terms with what he was told. He was shocked, saying there was no warning from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Cancer Care Ontario.

"I am very displeased at the way this was done, to put all of this effort and time and money into a program to build up a program and then to have it whisked away," said Tracey. "I think anybody would be shocked and upset that this has been done."

Staff members could lose their jobs

He had been lobbying for his PET/CT scanner to be replaced, but said that is out of the question now. His staff is devastated, because they are potentially out of work.

"Shocked is the real word, that they would go ahead and do this without any real consultation and the impact that it would have on us, without any opportunity to be consulted or be involved in the process," Tracey said.

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj speaks about the new PET/CT scanner that will be set up at the Met Campus and can support 600 patients every year. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

There was some indication that the province was looking at funding the equipment for sites all over the province, he admitted, but added "we fully expected and were lead to believe that, that was going to be equipment that we were going to be receiving and instead to our shock, it was given to the hospital."

Tracey disputes Windsor Regional's CEO, David Musyj's statement that 40 per cent of patients who need at a PET/CT scan have to travel out of the area.

"That's not accurate. It's much less that five per cent probably in the past five years," he said.

Musyj did not respond to a request from comment from CBC.

A life-long project

Tracey trained on PET scanning at UCLA in the early 1990s before returning to Ontario to work in the field.

Ten years ago, Tracey said he realized it would be awhile before the government would bring PET to the Windsor-Essex region, so he started his own service.

"After we started it the government then grandfathered it as a stand alone. community-base clinic for PET/CT," he explained.

In 2011, the operation was fully funded by the government with their own unit. Tracey said since then, they have been struggling with a lot of roadblocks with the ministry to keep it going. 

Two years ago, he had to suspend the use of the PET/CT scanner until a $100,000 private donation helped repair the machine.

Tracey said he has been offered to assist with the new scanner and said if the deal goes through he will not turn his back on the community.

"I'm very much interested that the patients of this community are taken care of. That's what I did this for," he said. "I'm not going to take my expertise elsewhere, but I am very displeased that this was done."