Manitoba announces new steps to address surgical backlog numbers

The Manitoba government is taking steps to improve access to health-care in the province, including increasing orthopedic surgeries at Concordia Hospital to help those who need hip and knee surgeries.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced the expansion at a news conference on Wednesday, saying the diagnostic and surgical recovery task force is looking to find ways to address delays in surgeries and procedures.

“There are thousands of Manitobans whose quality of life is profoundly affected by this work, which is why it is critical we continue to make progress and find solutions,” Gordon said.

“While waiting for surgeries, diagnostics, or other procedures, Manitobans and their families are waiting for answers. They’re waiting for relief from pain, for a return to their lives and doing the activities they love.”

To help deal with these delays, the province is expanding Concordia’s orthopedic surgery program by adding a fifth operating room, recruiting an orthopedic surgeon, adding four inpatient beds and investing in anesthesia staff.

The province expects to have these expansions, which will increase capacity by up to 1,000 surgeries per year, in place by the end of 2022.

The Concordia Foundation is leading fundraising efforts to support the required hospital renovations and improvements to increase joint-replacement surgery capacity.

OTHER HEALTH-CARE IMPROVEMENTS

Along with the Concordia expansion, Manitoba is improving access to care for about 900 Manitobans living with back pain and waiting for an assessment by the Spine Assessment Clinic.

The province is investing $400,000 in the clinic, which will increase the number of assessments by adding four new physical therapists.

The Spine Assessment Clinic is expected to have the resources in place in the coming months, with the goal of reducing spine assessment waitlists by next spring.

Manitoba also announced it is installing a new mobile CT unit and two new mobile MRI units in Winnipeg to improve outpatient access and reduce wait times.

The province estimates the units will deliver more than 11,600 CT scans and 7,200 MRIs annually.

The Manitoba government added that its pilot project with Sanford Health in North Dakota is currently underway.

So far, nine Manitobans have received spinal surgeries and additional surgeries are scheduled in the coming weeks.

Manitoba’s out-of-province referral program coordinates this program, which helps to reduce wait times for Manitobans who choose to travel for surgeries.

The Manitoba government is also expanding services at Misericordia Hospital’s cataract program.

According to Gordon, there are still more improvements to come.

“I also want to speak directly to Manitobans waiting for these procedures whose lives may be in limbo or who may be in pain,” the minister said.

“Some of you have called my office, some of you have written to my constituency office or to my office at the Manitoba legislature. I want you to know this – that supporting you is at the heart of all of this work.”

HEALTH SYSTEM UPDATE

According to the province, health-care staff members who were redeployed to help with the COVID-19 response are continuing to return to their previous responsibilities. Currently, there are 146 redeployed staff.

“I just want to pause and say to our health-care workers all across Manitoba – you have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and I commend and thank you all for your efforts,” Gordon said.

The province added that endoscopies and bariatric surgeries were restored to pre-pandemic levels as of last week.

 

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