New private surgical centers open in Regina and Saskatoon
Both Regina and Saskatoon are seeing the grand opening of new private surgery clinics this week, run by Alberta-based Surgical Centres Incorporated.
The company was awarded contracts with the Regina and Saskatoon health districts last year as part of the provincial government's efforts to reduce surgical wait times. Now up and running, the for-profit clinics focus on pediatric dental, orthopedic, and ear, nose, and throat operations.
The focus in the Surgical Centres clinic is on moving patients through in a quick, efficient way. President and CEO Mohamed Nanji said it wasn't easy in Regina, as the clinic was built essentially from scratch out of a building that was crumbling.
"The floors had to be re-done, the elevator had to be put in, the floors had to be supported by support beams, literally everything from plumbing to electrical had to be started from scratch," he explained in an interview at the clinic Thursday afternoon.
It was difficult work but he said it let them design the space to make it ideal. For the first time they've been able to split child and adult surgical suites onto different floors and create a better flow from area to area.
From a waiting room, patients are taken directly into an operating suite. They follow the same path afterwards into a recovery room. From there they leave. The entire path is a closed loop and patients going in never see those ahead of them in the queue.
The design effort extends to staff areas as well. The surgical floors are only for patients; service staff, storage, and instrument sterilization all happen in the building's basement. The sterilization areas are also designed ergonomically to ensure staff don't undergo unnecessary strain.
Nanji said the clinic should be able to help the province reduce wait times. He said the five operational suites in the Regina building can be run eight to 12 hours a day, including Saturday.
He was also quick to defend the private sector's role in the health care system, insisting it shouldn't be seen as a boogeyman invading the system.
"It is the private sector which is taking the risk (of building a surgical facility) with an understanding that the government will try and use them to reach their objective."
He said it's the provincial government's allowance of public/private partnerships that has permitted the company to expand into Saskatchewan.Nanji said he's already lobbying the government to allow the company to expand what it's able to do in the clinics.
He defended the company's history as well, saying over 100,000 patients have been operated on in its clinics outside of Saskatchewan over the span of 24 years.
In a news release the chair of the Regina Qu'appelle Health Region's board, Lloyd Boutillier, said it's good to see the doors opened.
"The additional operating room capacity allows us to provide more surgeries to patients more quickly."
Health minister Dustin Duncan agrees.
"The use of third-party providers to deliver selected outpatient surgery and specialized diagnostic imaging services is one of the innovative strategies endorsed by the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative," he adds in that news release.
Edited by CJME's Lisa Schick.