Surgery has returned to Innisfail Health Centre in the form of cataract operations.
Surgeries were last done in Innisfail in 2006.
Cataract surgery was originally supposed to be moved from Red Deer to Innisfail in 2011. The intent was to increase the number of high-priority surgeries in Red Deer as part of a $16.7-million plan announced in 2010 to provide more high-priority surgery across the province.
Delays in construction, including a construction company going into receivership, postponed the move.
Since April 15, three Red Deer ophthalmologists have been working part-time at the Innisfail hospital.
“Ophthalmology has been moved from Red Deer Regional Hospital to Innisfail, with the exception of pediatrics and surgeries requiring general anesthetic,” said Cathy McDonald, vice-president Alberta Health Services Central Zone.
“It’s had an immediate affect on the availability of surgical time available in Red Deer.”
AHS previously reported about 400 more urgent, emergent and elective surgeries could be performed in Red Deer by moving cataract surgery to Innisfail.
McDonald said an average of 100 cataract procedures are done per month in Innisfail and a total of 1,200 will be done each year, the same amount that was done in Red Deer.
From Jan. 1 to March 31, 90 per cent of people waiting for cataract surgery in AHS Central Zone waited 20.9 weeks for surgery.
Cataract surgery is performed as day surgery so it does not require a stay in hospital.
The ophthalmology outpatient clinic was also moved to Innisfail for specialized eye-related procedures that include blepharoplasty, capsulotomy, chalazion removals and diagnostic procedures.