Standalone orthopedic centre for
Edmonton's Royal Alex
EDMONTON – A new $60-million stand-alone orthopedic surgery centre at
the Royal Alexandra Hospital is expected to play a major role in Capital
Health’s plan to dramatically reduce wait times for hip and knee
replacements and curb cancellations of the operations.
“It will be
the first of its kind in Canada,” Joanna Pawlyshyn
(pictured), vice-president and chief operating officer at the
hospital, told the Edmonton Journal. “It should allow us, in the end, to
provide the best access to joint surgery in Canada right here.”
Construction on the new 80,000-square-foot facility, with two operating
rooms and 150 staff, is scheduled to start this spring; it is to be
completed in early 2009. The goal is to have hip and knee patients up on
their feet and back home four days after surgery.
The rooms are significantly larger than older ones, providing enough
space for physiotherapists to work directly at a person’s bedside
instead of having patients wheeled to a rehabilitation space.
Capital Health is already rolling out a new system that aims to have 90
percent of joint-replacement operations done within 20 weeks of the
initial consultation, down from a previous 82 weeks.
About 50 percent of the 3,000 annual joint operations in the region are
done that quickly now.
The 90 percent target should be reached within a year, even before the
new building is complete, since operating rooms and beds at the Royal
Alexandra, Misericordia and University of Alberta hospitals have been
devoted to the program. The new facility will help surgeons maintain
that target and see the number of joint surgeries increased to 3,600 a
“It will allow us to become super-efficient, to improve the length of
stay so we can move patients through more quickly and have them receive
better care and be able to move into active lives more quickly,”
Pawlyshyn said.” It will provide certainty to the public when they have
their procedure booked that it’s not going to be bumped because we’ve
Currently, about five to six joint surgeries have to be cancelled each
month because of pressures in the hospital, said Dr. Don Dick, the
medical lead of bone and joint health in Edmonton. Every hospital needs
more space and more beds to keep up with the growing population.
The orthopedic surgery centre is part of a number of ongoing projects at
the Royal Alexandra hospital that includes 14 new laboratories in the
newly constructed Lois Hole Hospital, which will focus on women’s and
children’s health issues, as well as a new $3.5-million in vitro
fertilization clinic, scheduled to open this spring.
The new orthopedic surgery centre will move at least some of the hip and
knee operations out of the main hospitals, freeing up room there to
complete other services, Dr. Dick said.
In the next year, the administration will have to decide if all
joint-replacement surgeries will be done out of the new facility or if
some will remain at other hospitals.
In the last year, Capital Health saw a 10-per-cent jump in the number of
people needing joint replacements and expects that rate of increase to
continue for the next few years, especially with the aging
population. Other orthopedic day surgeries, such as ligament
reconstruction and arthroscopy of the knee, will also be performed in
the new building to maximize its use. The full load of knee and hip
replacements will be phased in over time.