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May 31, 2022

Innovative HHS plan will reduce wait times for some day surgeries

Plan made possible through Surgical Innovation Fund

Three Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) hospital sites are partnering to tackle wait times for certain spine, knee and eye day surgeries.

These surgeries currently have wait times longer than the provincial targets. This plan, made possible through $450,000 from the province’s Surgical Innovation Fund, will help reduce wait times overall.

Creative solutions

This plan will see some day surgeries for adults currently performed at Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) and McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) move to West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) in Grimsby.

Adults with strabismus, commonly known as crossed eyes, are currently treated by pediatric ophthalmologists at MCH. Moving these adult patients to WLMH will tackle delays for children who are waiting by freeing up more operating room (OR) time for pediatric patients at MCH.

Wait times will also be shortened for some uncomplicated spinal day surgeries and orthopedic procedures such as knee arthroscopy, used for diagnosing and treating a range of knee injuries. Day-procedure spine cases are currently performed at HGH and arthroscopy procedures are currently performed at HGH and McMaster.

“By moving spinal day surgeries to West Lincoln, we’re making additional room for more complex spinal surgeries at the HGH,” says Dr. Ved Tandan, WLMH’s site chief of surgery.

Driving down backlogs

Under the new system, surgeons from the Hamilton hospitals will travel to Grimsby to perform procedures.

The innovative approach will support approximately 75 spine procedures per year, as well as 75 orthopedic scope procedures and about 60 eye-muscle surgeries, says Tandan. “It will achieve a number of hospital priorities, including helping to drive down the surgical backlog.”

To make this plan possible, 10 hours of operating time per week are being added to WLMH by lengthening the work day in an OR.

“Normally there are seven hours of operating time in a day,” says Tandan. “But one of the West Lincoln ORs will now be open nine hours per day, five days a week, which is providing the extra 10 hours per week of OR time.”

Shortening wait lists

The goal is to begin offering these procedures at WLMH in the fall, with new equipment already starting to arrive and training taking place over summer.

The $86.2 million Surgical Innovation Fund is supporting 187 projects to hospitals province-wide, with the goal of helping them perform more surgeries and procedures as they continue to ramp up non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries.