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

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

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
City of Wetaskiwin releases 50-year Community Vision results

The comprehensive community vision has been divided into five core pillars.

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta passes bill to give all workers paid leave to get COVID-19 vaccine shot

Labour Minister Jason Copping says Bill 71 will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Screen grab/ https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm#geospatial
COVID-19 cases continue to grow in the Wetaskiwin area

The City of Wetaskiwin currently has 141 active cases.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Alberta bill would protect health workers, care homes from some COVID-19 lawsuits

The bill proposes exempting a range of workers, including doctors, pharmacists and care-home operators, from being sued over COVID-19 unless it was for gross negligence

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Alberta government aiming to boost financial literacy among students

Government providing grants to organizations who will help design financial literacy programming

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

Most Read