Rosaire Lucier says technology now available at Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) allowed him to remain with his terminally ill wife and not have to travel to London for care.
The 62-year-old from Windsor, who's semi-retired from owning a painting company, was one of the first to use the endoscopic ultrasound machine in February when it began operating, according to hospital officials.
Lucier says a lesion was found on his esophagus, which ended up being benign — and was eventually removed.
"I was having problems swallowing food so I knew that there was something going on," he told reporters during a virtual press conference hosted by the hospital on Tuesday.
WRH gastroenterologist Dr. Sirajeddin Ben Musa says when they initially discovered the lesion it was from underneath layers so the lining of the esophagus "looked good" but there was a bulge.
"We didn't know what this was, where it came from or what the nature of this was," said Musa.
"We need to know exactly what's the component and if it's safe to go ahead and remove it versus doing a surgery. And that's where we needed the endoscopy ultrasound."
The machine uses a high-frequency, ultrasound probe with an endoscopy to examine things such as the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, pancreas and rectum — and help manage GI cancers. It also allows some patients to not require major surgery for tissue biopsies.
"Because I'm here [with my wife] 24 hours a day," Lucier said. "That would have been a real pain … to get to London to take care of that, where it was really convenient doing it this way."
WRH gastroenterologist Dr. Sabeena Misra says wait times for an endoscopic ultrasound machine in London can oftentimes be over one year, whereas in Windsor they're currently triaging based on urgency which could mean "weeks or months."
The diagnostic and treatment machine cost the hospital around $430,000 according to Rosemary Petrakos with Windsor regional.
Hospital staff say the machine is currently dealing with two to three cases per week, and they hope that will rise — with a goal of eventually bringing in a second machine.