A new chartered surgical centre opened in Edmonton on Saturday, which officials hope will lessen the burden of surgical wait times for Albertans.
Alberta Surgical Group is a doctor-driven private practice that, under contract with Alberta Health Services, will provide publicly funded orthopedic surgeries – a service that is desperately needed, as wait lists grow into the thousands in some provinces.
“We see there’s a capacity issue — our current system is stressed, especially with things like COVID that had hit. And this is allowing us to help treat our patients and access to treatment sooner,” said orthopedic surgeon D’Arcy Durand during Saturday’s grand opening.
“Wait times are getting out of control – after COVID, they’ve managed to bring things back down to a manageable level but this will help more,” he said.
For the patient, the centre will simply be the site where their surgery is performed, said Durand. And because the centre is exclusively for surgeries, patients will not have to wait for a bed behind an acute – sick – patient, like they would in a hospital, for example.
The centre itself is a 21,000 sq. ft. facility with five operating rooms. Officials estimate up to 8,000 surgeries will be scheduled there every year, which ultimately frees up space in hospitals.
The flow of operations – both in the operating room and out – have been streamlined so that doctors can be more efficient with how many patients they see, and ultimately bring wait times down. Orthopedic surgeries have the highest wait lists in the health system, said provincial health minister, Jason Copping.
“We have a challenge with staff in the province — we’re working on increasing the staff,” said Copping. “The beauty of this is that when you’re focused on only a couple of procedures, you can do them very, very well and use the same staff that are doing it today.”
The centre is not only going to serve Edmontonians, but will also be a main provider of orthopedic surgeries to the northern half of the province and the rural areas surrounding the city. It will allow “patients who have been waiting longer than what is clinically appropriate in a lot of circumstances” to have access to the health care they need, said Carol Anderson, chief zone officer for AHS Edmonton Zone.
“The ability to be able to do the types of surgeries that the Alberta Surgical Group is going to be offering here and focus in the AHS facilities on those patients who require more extensive and longer inpatient stays is going to be huge.”
The centre has its first surgery scheduled for Wednesday.
— With files from Nicole Stillger, Global News