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Alberta adding 3,000 orthopaedic surgeries via chartered Calgary clinic

Procedures will be done at two Canadian Surgery Solutions locations in Calgary.

More than 3,000 additional orthopedic surgeries will be contracted through a Calgary clinic, according to a provincial announcement made Monday.

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping was at Canadian Surgery Solutions in Calgary to make the announcement.

He said there are currently 6,000 Calgarians waiting for joint replacements. The 3,000 additional surgeries, done at two Canadian Surgery Solutions locations, will increase the total number in Calgary by 21 per cent, Minister Copping said.

“We need to get wait times down and that means we need to find more surgeries and what we need to do is use all the tools at our disposal to make this happen,” Copping said.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2021 (April to Sept.) 59 per cent of hip replacements in Alberta were done within the six-month benchmark from a surgeon’s recommendation. Knee replacements met that target 49 per cent of the time.

Copping said these new surgeries are in addition to ones that will be completed at AHS hospitals in Calgary.

According to Dr. Mohamed Nanji, medical director, Canadian Surgery Solutions, said their organization has been integrated with AHS for more than 30 years, already providing publicly funded surgeries.

“Surgeries will be performed by the same surgeons, and care will be of the same high standards offered at the hospitals and importantly the wait times for surgery will be shortened,” said Nanji.

“The continuance of care provided from pre-surgery to post-surgery is just like in the hospital system.”

‘This is public healthcare’: Minister Copping

Dr. Jason Werle, an orthopedic surgeon and section chief of orthopedic surgery for the Calgary Zone, Alberta Health Services, does surgeries at both the Rockyview General Hospital and at chartered surgical facilities.

He said positive patient outcomes are a top priority – whether it’s a chartered clinic or an AHS facility. They’re all governed by the same College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta regulations.

“So, regardless of whether an Albertan receives their surgery within a chartered surgical facility, or at an AHS hospital, the standard of care is measured the same way,” he said.

AHS administrator Dr. John Cowell said there’s a rigorous contract with deliverables and a cost structure.  Health Minister Copping said that with their experience in cataract surgeries (opthamology), where the province said they’ve reduced wait times from 19 weeks to 10 weeks, there’s a roughly 20 per cent savings on cost.

He said it makes sense given that they’re specialized and they have an efficient process. It helps build capacity in the public system, he said.

“I just want to be really, really clear with Albertans and everyone, this is public health care,” Copping said.

“This is no different than you going to see your family doctor and that’s paid through our health care system, and it is a private corporation.”

The adult surgical waitlist in Alberta right now is about 70,000 citizens, the province said. In 2021-2022, 20 per cent of surgeries were performed in chartered facilities.