Saturday surgeries to begin

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is now open for day surgery on Saturday for the first time.

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is now open for day surgery on Saturday for the first time.

This Saturday, five surgeries are booked for Unit 24, the short-stay surgery ward, to increase Central Albertans’ access to surgery.

“They are normally a Monday-to-Friday unit. Now they’re a Monday-to-Saturday unit,” said Penny Richey, director of surgery at the Red Deer hospital, with Alberta Health Services Central Zone.

“I anticipate there will be four to six surgeries every Saturday, depending on what procedures you put in there.”

In December, Alberta Health Services announced a $16.7-million plan to increase the number of high-priority surgeries by 5,000 a year in the province.

For Central Alberta, it means hospitals in Innisfail and Olds are taking on larger surgery roles to allow about 400 more urgent, emergent and day surgeries to be done in Red Deer.

Most of the cataract surgery now performed in Red Deer will be moved to Innisfail Health Centre starting in June.

Day surgery at Olds Hospital and Care Centre will be expanded from about two to five days a week starting in April and should be in full operation by June.

Opening up Unit 24 in Red Deer on Saturdays is the first step in Central Alberta’s $4.4-million plan to add about 1,736 more surgeries — from day surgery to emergent.

“We did a trial last year for three Saturdays to see how the doctors liked it, how the staff liked it, how the patients like it. And we decided to pursue it further,” Richey said.

Day surgery includes small procedures for knees, hands and feet, along with some gynecological surgery, and others.

“I would expect (patients) would all be home by 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

On weekdays, 20 to 40 day surgeries are performed each day in Red Deer.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com