Alberta Health Services (AHS), along with the Government of Alberta, is working on a Surgical Recovery Plan. The plan is designed to increase access to surgeries across the province for Albertans, while balancing the healthcare system’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Throughout the 2020/21 fiscal year to date, AHS surgical teams have been able to support surgical activity at about 90 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels. As of the end of February 2021, over 220,000 surgeries have been completed this fiscal year. This is a tremendous accomplishment given the demands of responding to the pandemic.
The following strategies are underway to support the Surgical Recovery Plan:
- Resume surgical services at AHS sites where activity needed to be slowed during Wave 2 (underway).
- Increase the volume of surgeries in chartered surgical facilities already under contract with AHS (underway).
- Establish new, publicly-funded contracts with existing and new Alberta vendors to expand the scope of surgeries, including orthopedic day procedures, plastics and general surgery (underway).
- Create focused sites of surgical care to ensure we can maintain capacity at five AHS sites: Banff, Edson, Innisfail, Peace River and the Royal Alexandra Hospital. While these sites will increase surgical activity, overall activity is also expected to increase across the province through 2021.
Combined, these strategies reach across the province to reduce the impact of postponements related to creating additional acute capacity for COVID-19 positive patients in AHS sites. They also limit the long-term quality of life impacts patients may experience through postponing surgeries.
These strategies will help ensure Albertans needing surgery receive care as quickly as possible, and will also help with post-pandemic surgical backlog.
The plan can be adjusted, as necessary, to help the health system respond to potentially-increased health system demand caused by COVID-19. Safety of patients, staff and physicians is the utmost priority and increases in surgical activity will happen, providing it is safe and appropriate to do so.
We will maintain all current COVID-19 public health orders and infection prevention and control standards and processes, including physical distancing and visitor guidelines. At all times, AHS will continue to reserve sufficient inpatient and ICU capacity to respond to the pandemic.
For more information, please see the Government of Alberta’s announcement.