Woman’s agonizing wait for surgery prompts questions

A Red Deer woman who waited over three days for surgery to fix her broken wrist is speaking out about the wait times for surgery at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

A Red Deer woman who waited over three days for surgery to fix her broken wrist is speaking out about the wait times for surgery at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Keri Jensen, 37, who fell while skating at the Collicutt Centre on Sept. 25, said she was told only two orthopedic surgeons in Red Deer could do her surgery. They happened to be working last week, but they were busy with other patients requiring a variety of more urgent emergency surgeries.

“Basically every day they were trying to get me in but I kept getting bumped,” said Jensen who finally had surgery on her right wrist on Sunday morning.

Her wrist was fractured in numerous places and she now has eight screws and a plate in her radius.

Jensen said the two surgeons were working non-stop and at some point somebody should have made the decision to call in another surgeon to free up one of the orthopedic surgeons for her surgery and for other orthopedic patients.

“I feel there could have been a decision made to get it done.”

During her first few days in hospital, Jensen said she was told her surgery was supposed to be done within 24 hours.

Jensen said she doesn’t want others to face such long waits in extreme pain that require powerful painkillers.

“You sit in there and you actually don’t believe you’re going to wait that long. Then when you do, you’re insane. I was losing my mind. It’s excruciating.”

“I was screaming and crying pretty much every day as soon as the drugs would wear off. The pain was nothing like I had experienced.”

Jensen said she was also worried about taking hydromorphone, a drug that is 20 times stronger than morphine, and healing complications due to the wait.

Neither did she like taking a hospital bed away from other possible patients from Thursday to Sunday.

Brenda Corney, chairperson of Friends of Medicare Red Deer chapter, said it’s not uncommon for surgery patients to wait longer than is comfortable or recommended.

“It happens often enough that most people are aware of people who have waited for some time for surgery. It’s really sad,” Corney said.

“It’s not that the surgeon or nurses don’t want the surgery done. It’s the size of the workload.”

Kerry Bales, senior vice-president with Alberta Health Services Central Zone, said if a surgery is postponed because of higher priority, emergency cases, the hospital does all it can to reschedule the surgery as soon as possible.

“Patients should rest assured that if they need emergency surgery, they will receive it immediately. However, they should also be aware that if a higher priority case presents, then it must take precedence,” Bales said.

“The surgical wait list changes constantly. Surgeons and other clinicians continuously monitor patients’ status for any changes that may necessitate moving their surgery ahead, or if it is safe to proceed with a more serious case ahead of them.”

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has eight operating theatres for scheduled and emergency patients. Surgeries are also performed in the evening to help address the wait list.


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