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Alberta ramping up surgeries 150 per cent; boosting privately run day clinics

Last Updated Sep 11, 2020 at 7:08 pm MDT

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The Alberta government said it plans to deal with a backlog of 25,000 surgeries in the province.

From Mar. 18 to May 4, 2020, all scheduled surgeries were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a 60 per cent reduction in surgeries.

While Alberta Health Services (AHS), estimated a backlog of two years, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the government has already cut that backlog drastically.

“Our platform commitment to reduce surgical wait times will be met, pandemic or no pandemic,” Shandro said. “Reducing the backlog by 88 per cent is a good first step – but we will need to push even harder in the months to come.”

Shandro said the province will expand the 43 chartered surgical facilities that already contract with Alberta Health Services and the call is going out for new proposals as well.

The official request for new proposals is to be posted by AHS this fall.

Shandro added the UCP is committed to keeping a campaign promise to provide all scheduled surgeries on time by 2023.

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In order to meet those wait time targets, new and existing chartered surgical facilities will be expanded to provide more publicly funded surgeries, leaving hospital operating rooms available to perform more complex surgeries.

Shandro also announced an Indigenous funding grant that will give First Nations communities the opportunity to establish a chartered surgical facility on reserves.

The six First Nations eligible for the $50,000 grants include the Enoch Cree Nation, Maskwacis, Tsuut’ina Nation and Blood Tribe.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Tsuut’ina Nation since we are already working on developing a quality care facility on our land,” said Chief Roy Whitney-Onespot, Tsuut’ina Nation.

“A chartered surgical facility could complement this work and be part of our vision to improve quality of care for our Nation members, as well as people off-reserve. I’m pleased to see the government’s ongoing commitment to support First Nations-based economic opportunities.”

Right now, AHS said it’s performing at about 85 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes for surgeries compared to 40 per cent early in the pandemic.

The agency hopes to increase volume up to 100 per cent by the end of the year.

-With files from The Canadian Press