The Lake of the Woods District Hospital is celebrating the first spinal fusion surgeries that were performed at the hospital.

This was the first time in Canada that a non-teaching centre and hospital of this size has hosted the procedure.

Spinal fusion can be a life-changing surgery, most easily explained as the permanent joining of two or more vertebrae of the spine, according to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital.

The procedures are part of the expansion of the spinal surgery program which is a collaborative approach that included leadership teams from the Lake of the Woods District Hospital and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre, surgeons, anesthetists surgical nurses as well as the Northwest Local Health Integration Network and Ontario Health who enable creative funding models to help clear the surgical backlogs created by the pandemic.

President and CEO of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Ray Racette, is pleased the hospital was selected as a spinal surgery site.

"Offering this service closer to home and in doing so, helping reducing long wait times for spinal surgery, is critically important for the people we serve," said Racette.

Dr. David Puskas, an Orthopedic Surgeon, from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre performed the surgery.

"I am absolutely thrilled with our growing partnership with Lake of the Woods District Hospital," Puskas said.

"Working together has enabled patients suffering from spinal pathology to receive surgical care and successfully recover closed to home," Puskas continued.

One of the main goals of the program is to improve access and standardized the level of care for patients throughout the region.

Since launching in April 2016, Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre's regional surgical services program has worked in partnership with the Northwest Local Health Integration Network, as well as the Dryden Regional Health Centre, Riverside Health Care in Fort Frances and Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora.