Northern Health gets ready for more hip and knee surgeries


BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

Northern Health is preparing to ramp up the number of hip and knee surgeries performed in the North.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Friday provincial funding to increase the number of surgeries across the province. The number of hip and knee replacement surgeries provided at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. is expected to increase this year by 12 per cent, for approximately 975 surgeries in 2018-19. In the North, 63 per cent of all hip and knee surgeries are performed at UHNBC. In 2016-17, 527 scheduled hip and knee surgeries were performed at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia. Under the provincial surgical strategy, which is being supported with ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-19, and increasing to $100 million in 2019-20, approximately 9,400 more publicly funded surgeries will be completed by the end of March 2019.

Cathy Ulrich
Cathy Ulrich

“Over the course of the last year, we have been working extensively at all the hospitals where we have surgical procedures, on the number of surgeons, anesthetists and perioperative nursing staff that we need,” said Cathy Ulrich, Northern Health CEO.

Part of that work has involved educating nurses in the specialty area of perioperative nursing to ensure there are nurses for the increased surgeries. Northern Health has also been recruiting anesthesiologists to the North.

“The other area that is very important in this realm, is physiotherapy,” said Ulrich. “We are working with the University of Northern British Columbia, UBC, and the community around how we might ensure that we continue to enhance that northern cohort … and increase our supply of physiotherapists.”

As of March 31, 2017 at the University Hospital of Northern B.C., approximately 38 per cent of people waiting for hip replacement surgery, and 51 per cent of people waiting for knee surgery, waited more than 26 weeks. The Canadian standard for wait times is that 90 per cent of patients should be able to get a hip or knee surgery in less than 26 weeks.

UHNBC hip replacements

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, as of Feb. 28, 2018, 266 hip replacements were provided.

  • Average age of hip replacement recipients is 67 years. (Patients’ ages ranged from 26 to 95 years.)
  • Number of patients waiting, as of Feb. 28, 2018, was 154.

UHNBC knee replacements:

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, as of Feb. 28, 2018, there were 511 knee replacements.

  • Average age of knee replacement recipients is 66 years. (Patients’ ages ranged from 26 to 95 years).
  • Number of patients waiting, as of Feb. 28, 2018, is 457.

The number of patients waiting is measured from the time a surgeon communicates a patient’s surgical needs to a hospital’s booking office.