New program improves access to hip surgeries in North

November 23, 2022

HINTON – Northern Albertans now have increased access to hip surgery with the opening of a new surgical program at Hinton Healthcare Centre.

An orthopedic surgeon is visiting the Alberta Health Services (AHS) site for four days per month doing hip surgeries and eventually knee surgeries. Hinton becomes the fourth site in the AHS North Zone providing hip surgeries, joining Grande Prairie, Westlock and Bonnyville.

“The Alberta Surgical Initiative opened the door for this kind of surgery to be done in Hinton,” says Minister of Health Jason Copping. “Albertans across the province say reducing surgical wait-times is among their top priorities for their health system and, through programs like this and other strategies, we are working toward ensuring all Albertans, regardless of where they live, get their surgeries within clinically appropriate wait times.”

“This is a great example of innovation that provides more options for patients,” adds Martin Long, West Yellowhead MLA. “Our government is committed to strengthening our publicly funded health system and reducing surgical wait times, and new approaches like this will help deliver on that promise.”

The program launched last month and, by early next year, local surgical teams expect to perform up to 16 orthopedic surgeries every month.

“We are really excited,” says Crystal Browne, AHS Director of Clinical Operations for Hinton and area. “Our team in Hinton has done a great job in launching this program; it’s just a great success story all around.”

Hinton partnered with Grande Prairie Regional Hospital to identify the first four patients on the wait-list who were willing to travel to another hospital for their surgeries.

Denise Cook became the program’s first patient when she opted to have hip replacement surgery in Hinton rather than in Grande Prairie, where she lives.

“I was impressed with how all the departments in Grande Prairie and Hinton worked together,” Cook says. “Everyone from physio to the bone clinic here in Grande Prairie, the surgeon’s office, the hospital in Hinton telling me what to expect. They had everything arranged for me to get the equipment I needed at home. It all happened quickly. I was thoroughly impressed.”

Cook’s surgery was done on a Monday morning and, by Tuesday at noon, she was discharged and on her way home to Grande Prairie, where she is now recovering.

“It was a remarkable experience,” Cook says. “I really want to give a huge shoutout to the staff at the Hinton hospital. They were all amazing. I’m a cancer survivor, so I’ve had experience in the hospital and that care was great, and this was unbelievably amazing, too.”

“We are a very strong surgical site, and that echoes out into other areas of care in the hospital,” adds Alana Larson, assistant head nurse for the operating room at Hinton Healthcare Centre.

In 2019, AHS and Alberta Health began developing the Alberta Surgical Initiative (ASI), a plan focused on reducing surgical wait-times for Albertans. Through the strategies under the ASI, AHS continues to increase surgical activity in the province to get Albertans the surgical care they need within clinically recommended wait times.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.