Region adds surgeries, beats wait-time targets

Red Deer is on target to increase surgeries by three per cent this year despite a delay in transferring most cataract surgery from Red Deer to Innisfail hospital. The goal is to add 400 more urgent, emergent and day surgeries in Red Deer. In 2010-11, about 13,350 were performed.

Red Deer is on target to increase surgeries by three per cent this year despite a delay in transferring most cataract surgery from Red Deer to Innisfail hospital.

The goal is to add 400 more urgent, emergent and day surgeries in Red Deer. In 2010-11, about 13,350 were performed.

Across Central Alberta, the goal is 1,736 more surgeries.

Shifting cataract surgery to Innisfail in June is one of the ways Alberta Health Services Central Zone is increasing access to surgery, but renovations were required for new air handling units at Innisfail Health Centre. A start date has not been determined.

However, work to increase surgeries is underway elsewhere.

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre now performs six scheduled surgeries on Saturday and day surgery at Olds Hospital and Care Centre has expanded from 2.5 days to five days a week.

“Transferring of certain cases to Olds, and within central zone, increases our capacity here in Red Deer and also allows our patients in central zone to get their care locally,” said Sharon Bilanski, director of surgery for Red Deer.

“It reduces the waiting times and it’s access to surgical care closer to home, which is a very positive experience for patients.”

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. Central Alberta’s cut was $4.4 million.

Bilanski said Central Alberta is beating the provincial wait time target for knee and hip surgery. Local patients wait a median of 20.2 weeks for hip surgery, while the provincial target is 28 weeks. For knee surgery, the median wait is 28.5 weeks and the target is 42.

There were 555 hip and knee surgeries in Central Alberta last year. Those surgeries are only performed in Red Deer.

“This year our goal is for 657 and we appear to be on target,” Bilanski said.

Meanwhile, wait times for patients in Red Deer’s emergency department rose in July and August. Trips to emergency usually increase with more outdoor activities.

Sylvia Barron, director of emergency and critical care at Red Deer Regional, said having eight to 12 beds closed on second floor units for flooring renovations also added to wait times. Some beds will continue to be closed to install new flooring until November.

Emergency’s overcapacity plan was triggered six times in July and seven in August. Existing patients who can be discharged are moved to dedicated lounge chairs or beds in the hospital, sent to nearby hospitals or long-term care facilities, or sent home with home care support to make room for emergency patients.

In July and August, patients were treated and released in a median of 2.9 hours. Patients who were admitted waited a median of 10.9 hours in July and 8.8 hours in August for acute care beds.

In December 2010, Alberta Health Services implemented an emergency room overcapacity plan to reduce wait-times to under eight hours for emergency patients who need acute care beds, and those who haven’t been admitted to be treated and released within four hours.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate