B.C. government to reduce wait times for knee and hip surgeries


WATCH:  Relief may be in sight for the many on Vancouver Island stuck on long waiting lists for a hip or knee replacements.  The province is promising $175 million over the next two years alone to help reduce wait times across B.C. Mary Griffin reports.

Exercising is something Marion Hutchinson could only dream about six weeks ago. But then her life changed.  On Wednesday, physiotherapist Airan Felzien was putting her through her paces.

“Good, good! you are going at a perfect speed,” Felzien said.

Hutchinson is still recovering from knee replacement surgery in February.

“I had a total replacement on my left knee six weeks ago tomorrow and I’m waiting to have the same surgery on my right knee.” But that first surgery took 13 months and the length of time took its toll.

“It’s very depressing and very frustrating. The longer I had to wait, the harder it was to be motivated to do things and want to do things,” Hutchinson said.

But in the future, fewer patients will have to go through Hutchinson’s ordeal.  Premier John Horgan was in Vancouver on Wednesday to announce that the province will address long waitlists for hip and knee replacements.  Horgan said the investments will total $175 million over the next two years, with ongoing targeted funding in the years after.

“We are going to be investing $75 million in increasing knee, and hip replacement surgeries. That will lead to a 34 per cent increase in procedures. Four thousand people will now have access to this place, and others across British Columbia,” Horgan said.

It can now take as long as 56 weeks for Island Health patients to wait for hip replacement surgery. And up to 66 weeks for knee surgery. The new funding of $175 million over the next two years will establish a new benchmark for surgical waits to 26 weeks.

Dr. Stefan Fletcher is the CEO of the Rebalance Clinic, where Hutchinson is undergoing her rehabilitation.

“We’ve been preparing for this, and so we are ready to go. So, we are going to be doing a lot more surgeries on Vancouver Island, here in Victoria, over the next year,” Fletcher said.  “We are going to be doing more hip surgeries here in Victoria, than Vancouver General Hospital, and UBC Hospital together, so it’s a significant bump.”

Even though Hutchinson has another surgery, she already knows what a difference it’ll make to her life.

“Friends keep telling me to take it easy because it’s only been six weeks for this one to be done. But I can’t wait. I just, can’t wait. I’m excited.”

For more information on Island Health surgical wait-times go to https://swt.hlth.gov.bc.ca/Home.xhtml

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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