AB Government: Partnering with First Nations to lower wait times

Press Release

Enoch Cree Nation, in partnership with Surgical Centres Inc., is in negotiations with Alberta Health Services to offer about 3,000 publicly funded hip and knee replacements and other joint procedures in the Edmonton area each year when its new chartered surgical facility is complete in 2023. It is one of the first surgical facilities to be built on First Nation land across the country.

This will be a 17 per cent increase in orthopedic procedures performed in the Edmonton area compared with 2019-20. Expected cost savings are in the range of 20 per cent for each procedure performed in the community facility rather than in a hospital.

This contract and others planned for Calgary will significantly increase capacity for surgical procedures across Alberta and decrease the surgical wait-list, providing more surgeries at a lower cost.

“This unique First Nation partnership means thousands more Albertans can get their hip and knee replacement surgery sooner in a state-of-the-art facility. It’s a great example of Alberta’s innovative approach to reducing wait times and working with communities to increase surgical capacity.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Through the Alberta Surgical Initiative, we are working to bring down surgical wait times so everyone gets their surgery within wait times recommended by medical experts. The partnership between Enoch Cree Nation and AHS provides Albertans access to life-changing surgeries when they are needed and builds new economic opportunity for the Nation. We’re taking extraordinary measures to improve Alberta’s entire surgical system through innovative partnerships like this one and building capacity in chartered surgical facilities and hospitals.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“Indigenous communities in Alberta have the capacity to offer much-needed services. Partnerships like this benefit all communities by improving access to services, diversifying economic opportunity and expanding job growth. This is another meaningful step toward true reconcili-ACTION.”

Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations

“Today we are taking action to provide world-class care for all Albertans who experience the Maskêkosihk way. This announcement is a key first step in a long journey, and we look forward to walking this path together with our partners to redefine health-care delivery in Alberta and beyond.”

Chief William (Billy) Morin, Enoch Cree Nation

“The opportunities provided by Sovereign Health are transformative for the health-care system. We can learn so much by working together to provide high-quality health care that leverages innovation and education to deliver services in a way that has never been done before.”

Dr. Todd McMullen, general surgeon and senior advisor to Enoch Cree Nation

“Our business model is built on meeting the needs and goals of the publicly funded health-care system and the communities they serve. Meeting the province’s health-care needs requires a dynamic vision, thoughtful planning, courageous investment and management acumen. Above all, sustainable health care depends on meaningful partnerships. We view our contracts as partnerships because we share many of the same values, goals and approaches. As partners, we are driven to evolve our services, adopt new technology, embrace innovative strategies, advance surgical techniques and strive for bold and better health-care outcomes.”

Dr. Mohamed Nanji, president and CEO, Surgical Centres Inc.

“Patients are at the heart of our decision-making at AHS, and these news contracts are an excellent opportunity to improve access to surgical care for many Albertans. We’re looking forward to working with Enoch Cree Nation and other partners as we continue to explore opportunities for further expansion. Thank you to our partners and all of the teams at AHS who are working together to make this happen. I value all of you and your dedication to Albertans.”

Mauro Chies, interim president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

About 22,900 patients are waiting for orthopedic surgery in Alberta right now, of which 18 per cent (about 4,000 patients) are waiting for a hip replacement and 35 per cent (about 8,000) are waiting for knee replacement surgery.

AHS launched a request for proposals starting in July 2021, searching for chartered surgical facilities to offer orthopedic surgeries. Enoch Cree Nation was one of six First Nations across Alberta that received a $50,000 grant from the Alberta government in 2020 to help them develop proposals to take part in the Alberta Surgical Initiative.

Enoch Cree Nation and Surgical Centres Inc. will build a new surgical facility on greenspace on Enoch Cree Nation land, with construction expected to be complete in about 14 months. The facility would begin offering orthopedic surgeries starting in the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Moving more orthopedic surgeries and procedures into community clinics frees up operating room space in hospitals to provide more complex surgeries. Budget 2022 provides $133 million over three years via the Alberta Surgical Initiative to expand and build new operating rooms in hospitals across the province.

Quick facts

  • The total surgical wait-list for adults sits at about 70,520 compared with about 74,300 at the beginning of April. In February 2020, before the pandemic, the total wait-list was 68,000.
  • Alberta is a leader in Canada in partnering with chartered surgical facilities to increase access to much-needed surgeries.
  • Chartered surgical facilities have been offering publicly funded surgeries to Albertans since the 1990s.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta accredits chartered surgical facilities for quality and safety standards.
  • They performed about 52,000 surgical procedures from April 2021 to March 2022, more than ever before, and about 31 per cent more than before the pandemic.
  • Chartered surgical facilities delivered about 20 per cent of surgeries performed in Alberta in 2021-22.
  • Chartered surgical facilities in Edmonton and Calgary are providing about 35,000 cataract and other eye procedures under new contracts with AHS this fiscal year. That is about 25 per cent more than the facilities performed last year.

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