Elective hip, knee and shoulder surgeries postponed at Royal Alexandra Hospital: AHS

Some Albertans will be waiting longer for elective knee, hip and shoulder surgeries after changes to the University of Alberta’s residency program.

Alberta Health Services said medical residents of the university’s orthopedic surgery division were consolidated at the University of Alberta Hospital starting on Canada Day.

As a result, post-operative support and after-hours coverage at the Royal Alexandra Hospital have been reduced and around 90 orthopedic surgeries have been postponed.

Those include arthroplasty hip, knee and shoulder surgeries, as well as elective spinal surgeries.

Urgent and emergency surgeries will continue at that hospital, AHS said, and work is underway to find “alternative coverage.”

“We acknowledge that this is extremely frustrating to those impacted patients, and we apologize for any disruption these postponements will cause,” AHS said in a statement Friday. “We are working hard to get those impacted patients rescheduled as quickly as possible.”

Friends of Medicare Executive Director Chris Gallaway said the delays are upsetting, but not surprising.

“It’s a common thing that’s happening in our health care across the province,” Gallaway said.

“We have dozens of closures every single day and we have for years across the province in hospitals, health-care centres, operating rooms, emergency rooms … that’s the crisis we’re in.”

Gallaway said more investment in public health care and comprehensive health care workforce strategy are needed to address long wait times.

The health minister’s office said the decision to move residents was the University of Alberta School of Medicine’s choice and that Alberta Health is reviewing options to prevent similar situations in the future.

The University of Alberta said it empathizes with patients whose surgeries have been delayed, but said staffing is AHS’s responsibility.

“All medical schools in Canada are required to follow these accreditation standards for medical residents. These standards require our residents to receive proper supervision and adequate on-call coverage,” said university spokesperson Ross Neitz on Friday.

Neitz said resident shift rotations will continue at the Royal Alexandra Hospital during hours where the required supervision is available.

AHS said Edmonton Zone arthroplasty hip and knee surgeries will continue as usual at the Misericordia Community Hospital, and arthroplasty shoulder surgeries will continue at the Sturgeon Community Hospital and the University of Alberta Hospital.


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