Manitoba announces new surgical capacity initiatives

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Manitoba is preparing to send hundreds of spinal patients south of the border of surgery, in an attempt to help clear the growing backlog and waitlist of cases. Brittany Greenslade reports on the plan so far from a task force looking into the issue. – Jan 19, 2022

Manitoba health minister Audrey Gordon announced a number of new initiatives Wednesday that the province is putting in place to build capacity for spinal surgery, women’s health and diagnostics and reduce a massive surgery backlog.

“You have every right to be frustrated and skeptical because we all know COVID has put extreme challenges on our health-care system and those challenges have made these backlogs even worse,” Gordon said.

The Manitoba government has signed agreements and put new initiatives in place to build capacity for women’s health, diagnostics and spine surgery since the launch of the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force in December, Gordon announced Wednesday.

“The task force quickly built capacity in some key areas as we build a stronger and more responsive system here in Manitoba,” said Gordon.

“Providing care close to home is our priority and we know many people have waited far too long, which affects their health and quality of life. Today, we are highlighting new solutions that will help hundreds of Manitobans get the care they need sooner.”

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Among the notable announcements is an agreement the province is working on with Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota to provide hundreds of spinal surgeries.

Dr. Ed Buchel, the provincial specialty lead for surgery says it would be patients who would stay a few days to a week in hospital.

“It wouldn’t be the patients that have life-threatening needs for immediate surgery and it wouldn’t be the “easiest” patients, who are done as an outpatient,” Buchel said. “The care for people on the wait list needs to happen now while we are developing increasing capacity in our system.”

There is no date on when those surgeries could start or how much it could cost the province. Gordon says this is meant as an interim measure and there are no other plans to outsource surgeries to the U.S.

An agreement with Maples Surgical Centre to increase gynecology surgeries has also been reached, which is intended to significantly decrease wait time for nearly 3,000 women waiting for care.

Another initiative will provide more timely diagnosis for colon cancer patients and free up space in Manitoba operating rooms for other procedures, Gordon said.

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Manitoba is shifting to fecal immunochemical test screening, which provides more accurate results, and is expected to decrease endoscopies by 10-15 per cent per year once it’s implemented.

More information about these and other task force initiatives is available at the province’s website.


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