Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) has received an additional $643,000 in 2011-12 from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health to expand surgical capacity in the region.
With these additional funds, the region plans to deliver an additional 125 surgeries at Weyburn General Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital in Estevan this year.
The funding is part of $40.4 million in additional provincial government funding announced by Health Minister Don McMorris on February 14 for the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative. The additional dollars from the Surgical Initiative will enable health regions to complete approximately 5,700 additional surgeries in 2011-12, an increase of almost eight percent.
In response to the findings of the 2009 Patient First Review, the Government of Saskatchewan has committed to achieving a maximum wait time of three months for elective surgeries, to be achieved in four years.
"We are pleased to be part of the province's plan to reduce the waiting time for surgeries," said Interim CEO Marga Cugnet. "We're all working toward the same goal in the provincial system. It is not just about doing more procedures but looking at other factors such as assessing the need for surgery, preventing the need for surgery and coordinating our efforts."
Cugnet said SCHR hospitals are not equipped to perform hip and knee surgeries, but if these hospitals provide more general surgeries, more operating room time will be available in Regina for other complicated procedures.
"SCHR is pleased to work with our own surgeons as well as those from other regions who travel here, and patients will appreciate that they can receive more surgical services closer to home," she said.
Environment Minister and Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan said, "This additional funding will help provide sooner, safer, smarter surgical care, and give patients more timely access to quality surgical services in Sun Country Health Region."
No changes will be needed to operating rooms in the region but some equipment will be upgraded in both locations to facilitate the additional surgeries.
In preparation for the extra work, additional registered nurses were trained in operating room procedures and more will be offered the opportunity in the future.
Part of the additional funding will be used to expand home care services and rehabilitation therapies to assist people leaving hospital after surgery.
Surgeries in SCHR are primarily dental restoration and extraction, obstetrics and gynecological, laparoscopy, and general surgery. Ear, nose and throat surgeries will be added later this year. About 640 surgeries are performed in SCHR annually.