Interior Health is resuming elective surgeries beginning May 19. (Black Press Media Files)

Alberta officials target surgical backlog

By the end of the year, as many surgeries will be provided as before the pandemic

By Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

A backlog of non-urgent surgeries exists in Alberta due to COVID-19 shutdowns, but the province is working to increase surgical capacity to catch up.

Non-urgent, scheduled and elective surgeries were postponed across the province in response to the ongoing pandemic on March 17. Urgent and emergency surgeries, as well as oncology and scheduled caesarean (c-section) procedures were said not to be affected.

This policy was maintained until May 4, when it was announced that non-urgent, scheduled surgeries would resume. However, this interruption resulted in a backlog of about 25,000 surgeries for Albertans.

The province is now making moves to reduce the backlog and expedite health care into the future by expanding surgical capacity, announced Tyler Shandro, minister of health, during a Sept. 11 news conference.

AHS has already completed about 90 per cent of the cases of non-urgent scheduled surgeries that were cancelled during the shutdown in the spring. Surgical capacity is now at about 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and is increasing, he said.

By the end of the year, as many surgeries will be provided as before the pandemic. Then, after the new year, hospitals and publicly funded chartered surgical facilities will expand capacity beyond pre-pandemic levels, resulting in reduced wait times.

The province is working to fund more surgeries, including lower-risk surgeries in rural hospitals, and expand surgical capacity by creating new chartered surgical facilities and expanding existing ones, which will happen in both urban and rural communities across the province.

Chartered surgical facilities are private, non-hospital health facilities managed offering publicly funded procedures, of which there are currently 43 in Alberta performing about 15 per cent of surgeries.

“This work with the chartered surgical facilities is key, since they will have the capacity to do more surgeries at lower cost,” said Shandro.

The province is seeking requests for proposals (RFPs) from operators to expand or open facilities. A request for expressions of interest yielded 42 submissions from existing chartered surgical facilities or new operators to provide up to 200,000 more surgeries across Alberta, according to a government news release.

New grants are also being provided to six First Nations, including Siksika Nation, to develop proposals under the RFP. “We want to work with any partner who wants to work with us to increase capacity in the publicly funded health system and to reduce costs,” said Shandro.

Developing surgical capacity in Siksika Nation has been in the works to better meet the needs of its aging population that now must travel to seek health care, explained Ouray Crowfoot, chief of Siksika Nation. “We’ve been looking at initiatives and joint ventures, and we’ve had these business plans for some time now, on how we can move forward with a surgical facility,” he said.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

(Stock image)
Virtual mental health network now available to Albertans

Platform offers safe, anonymous, peer-to-peer supports with a global community

Karin Phibbs
Karin Phibbs has landed Stettler’s Female Citizen of the Year award

Phibbs has shown a dedicated commitment to sharing her skills and time within a number of causes over the years

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier tests negative for COVID-19 but will isolate for a week

Kenney said he will isolate until Oct. 29 and, in the meantime, work from home

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Most Read