Deal with private contractor could reduce surgery wait times

Island Health has identified a private surgical partner for a deal that could help alleviate the backlog of scheduled surgeries

Island Health has identified a private surgical partner and has entered into contract negotiations on a deal that could help alleviate the backlog of scheduled surgeries with the opening of a new centre in Victoria in 2016.

Surgical Centres Inc. was identified as the best of three proposals submitted in a Request for Proposals (RFP) by Island Health in April. Island Health aims to have a contract in place by fall and the new facility open by the middle of 2016, if not sooner.

Island Health (formerly Vancouver Island Health Authority) has contracted with private surgical providers since 2004, including a deal with Seafield Surgical Centre in Nanaimo.

“Since that time, thousands of patients have benefited from timely, accessible, publicly funded day surgery,” said Norm Peters, director of Surgical Services and Heart Health. “By increasing the number of surgeries and colonoscopies we perform outside hospital, we can free up operating rooms for more complex cases and reduce wait times for both day and inpatient services.”

The proposed new centre in Victoria would serve primarily patients on the South Island, where Island Health has identified the greatest demand and most limited capacity to expand surgery volumes. But the RFP also asked the provider to perform between 2,500 and 3,000 colonoscopies in the Central Island.

“What this will look like for your area will be part of the contract negotiations that will begin now,” Island Health spokesperson Suzanne Germain said in an email. “The good news is that we are increasing the volume of hip and knee surgeries that will be done in Campbell River. We are planning to do 54 more hip and knee surgeries at CRH this year.”

The types of publicly funded surgeries to be performed at the proposed Surgical Centres location include general surgeries like hernia repairs and gall bladder removal; orthopedics like arthroscopic procedures, knee ligament and shoulder procedures; plastic surgery; vascular procedures including ligation and varicose vein operations; and pediatric dentistry.

“Surgeries that won’t be done are … more complicated procedures that would require an overnight stay or longer in hospital,” said Germain.

But while the contracted centres will not provide for all types of surgery, the procedures they take on do reduce the load on the existing system and reduce wait times for other surgeries.

Under this surgery partnership model, the contracted surgical facility will function as an extension of the operating rooms of Island Health’s hospitals, using the health authority’s waitlists and physicians. Island Health will manage the surgical/colonoscopy bookings and all procedures are publicly-funded.

Surgical Centres has been in operation for 27 years and has six surgical facilities in three provinces providing publically-funded surgical services supporting provincial wait list reductions.

“Island Health has been very satisfied with the service provided at Seafield Surgical Centres, and the Saskatoon and Regina Qu’Appelle Health Regions report to us they are also fully satisfied with Surgical Centre’s services,” said Peters. “