Surgery wait times in Moncton still too long
Health authorities have suggested province allow operating on nights and weekends
Despite slight improvements, patients in Moncton can still wait two years for a knee replacement and up to a year and a half for a hip replacement, longer than elsewhere in New Brunswick.
Health Minister Victor Boudreau vowed in October to address growing concerns about wait times at the city's two hospitals, where the waits were the longest in the province and in some cases triple those at other hospitals.
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- Moncton's long surgery wait time to be addressed, says health minister
But little has changed since then. The wait for knee replacement surgery has been shortened by a week at both the Moncton Hospital and the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre.
The situation for hip replacement surgery seems to have improved a little more. Wait times at the Georges-Dumont were about three weeks shorter, and the Moncton Hospital noted an improvement of more than six months this past trimester.
The latest wait times for the two procedures:
At the Moncton hospital
- 392 days for hip replacement (or 1.1 year)
- 718 days for knee replacement (or 2 years)
At the Georges-Dumont hospital
- 538 days for hip replacement (or 1.5 years)
- 675 days for knee replacement (or 1.8 years)
Those numbers, available on the New Brunswick government website, weren't any consolation this week to patient Paul Godin.
Godin, 76, who has been on the waiting list for a total hip replacement since March 2016 at the Georges-Dumont hospital, said he was shocked to hear health authorities talk about having improved wait times.
''From the time I started to today, the period of wait has increased by two or three months,'' said Godin. ''I'm now looking at 21 months. When I started I was at 18 months.
''What we're hearing does not correspond to what we're living."
At the end of December, Godin received a call from the Vitalité Health Network, telling him his surgery had been pushed back to January 2018, from October 2017 — a long wait for the Dieppe resident, who has had to significantly limit his activities because of pain.
''It's not acceptable," Godin said. "I consider that to be negligent on the part of those who are responsible for my care. They are not properly discharging the duty of care imposed on them."
Surgeries on nights and weekends?
Health authorities said the lack of operating time is the number one factor responsible for lengthy wait times in Moncton.
Vitalité Health Network CEO Gilles Lanteigne said he presented a plan to the Health Department last November that included ways they could operate either at night or on weekends to increase the number of surgeries.
Lanteigne said he is expecting an answer from the health minister in the coming weeks. A provincial approach like this would likely extend to other hospitals, he believes.
''While there is progress, we're still off significantly what would be the national standard,'' said Lanteigne.
Godin also feels extending operating hours could be the way to go.
''Operating rooms are closed at 3 p.m.," he said. "From 3 p.m. to the next day unless there is an urgency, these operating rooms are simply not used. Why couldn't they open one or two operating rooms, once or twice a week, for an extra couple of hours? They would reduce the people on the wait list by 50 or 100 a year.''
In the fall, the Health Department formed a working group looking at how to improve surgical wait times in Moncton.
Boudreau said the department is continuing to collaborate with regional health authorities, as well as orthopedic surgeons.
''Additional budget pressures identified to address orthopedic surgery wait times will be assessed as part of the government's budget process," he said.
He has said factors contributing to Moncton wait times include an aging population, in-province migration toward southern regions and human resource training.