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Surgery wait times mix of good and bad

Surgery wait times are improving in Kamloops and will further improve with the addition of another operating room.
June 07, 2013 - 11:47 AM

KAMLOOPS - The good news is there is a 90 per cent chance you will wait 22 weeks less for knee replacement surgery at Royal Inland Hospital today than 18 months ago. The bad news? That is still 16 weeks more than the federal benchmark target.

Hospital administrator Marg Brown says while the latest statistics do show an upward trend for the hospital, surgery wait times tend to vary and depend on many factors, including aging population, seasonal surges, physician availability and postponements because of congestion.

“We kind of go up and down. We made some significant improvements in some areas, a little bit in some other areas.”

Cataract surgeries were recently moved off site which has helped open up room for things like knee replacement surgeries, she says. Though the federal benchmark is 26 weeks the provincial average in the last quarter was 36.3 weeks for knee replacements. Interior Health Authority saw 49.2 weeks as the average for this surgery while RIH was slightly better at 42 weeks.

People are starting to get knee and hip surgeries at a younger age to allow them to stay more active, Brown says.

“Right now for knees and hips people are getting them done at a much younger age. Quality of life comes into that. People tend me be much more active here.”

IHA spokesperson Tracy Watson notes these numbers, released by B.C. Health, are updated quarterly and reflect only the procedures completed with that time frame.

During quarters that include December or March, as this one did, the hospital scales back the number of procedures to accommodate physician and staff holidays.

“Many people don't want to come in for surgery during the holidays, so we try to plan around that,” Brown says.

Improvements being made at the hospital will help in the future, Brown notes. There are plans in the works to open a new operating room which will allow an average of 25 more procedures to be completed every week.

“There are exciting things happening,” Brown says of the additional operating room, “Interior Health has been very cognizant of this (our needs) and has been trying to work with doctors, work for the community.”

This expanded capacity likely will not help alleviate any current wait times until at least the fall, Brown notes, but the request for proposal did go out last week and she is excited to see what comes back. In the meantime doctors are working at getting to patients most in need of the surgeries and those that have been waiting the longest.

RIH is ahead of both IHA and the province when it comes to wait times for many procedures, something Brown attributes to a lack of need for the procedures. Though overall the hospital is well ahead of the provincial averages there are three procedures where RIH is quite a bit behind the federal benchmark and provincial averages. Out of the eight key medically acceptable maximum wait times set out be the federal government in 2005 RIH fell behind in cataract surgeries and knee and hip replacement surgeries in the last quarter, with hip surgeries double the benchmark of 26 weeks and 20 weeks worse than the provincial average of 32.2 weeks.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or message through Twitter @JennStahn.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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