WATCH: Vancouver Island has the longest wait times for hip and knee replacements in the province. Isabelle Raghem reports.
Less than half the patients needing hip-replacement, and less than a third waiting for knee-replacements get surgery within the recommended time period.
According to numbers released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, only 45 per cent of patients got hip-replacement surgery and 29 per cent got knee-replacement surgery within the recommended 26-week period.
In the province, 61 percent received hip-replacement surgery within the recommended 26-week period in 2016 and 47 per cent got knee-replacement in that same period.
That is much lower than the national average of 79 per cent for hip-replacement surgery and 73 per cent for knee-replacement surgery over the same period.
Elizabeth Kozak always led an active life, but a year and half ago that changed completely when she began experiencing major problems with her right hip.
“The pain is there even in the simplest exercise, I couldn’t do anything,” explains Kozak.
She was shocked to learn it would be a year before she could get hip-replacement surgery in Victoria.
“I feel very discouraged, helpless, fearful and isolated about the prospect of continuing to cope with my declining physical condition and the accompanying pain,” she reads from the letters she wrote doctors and the Premier.
“It is worrisome, ” says Norm Peter, Executive Director of Island Health Surgical Services, adding “We do have an aging population and as people get older they need surgeries.”
Island Health hopes to cut down wait times when they open a new surgical clinic in View Royal next month.
“By moving day care cases out of the hospital, we’re going to be able to do additional total joint cases in hospital, and improve wait time for patients,” explains Peters.
The head of “Rebalance MD”,the clinic which is home to all of the city’s orthopedic surgeons, says his doctors need better access to operating rooms.
The clinic currently has over 14-hundred patients waiting for hip and knee replacements.
“It doesn’t matter whether my doctors can do the surgery or not, if they can’t get in the OR,” Stefan Fletcher says, “They can’t do it”.
Kozak chose not to wait and got the surgery at a private clinic in Quebec.
It cost her more than $20,000 – money she had set aside to fulfill a dream.
“This was my savings for my trip, and I thought: you can’t go anywhere if you can’t walk.”
Now she’s recovered and back on her feet, but knows that many who aren’t so fortunate are faced with an often agonizing wait.