Pamela Cripps is a 64-year who postponed getting knee surgery for a decade. When her knee started to “clunk and grind,” her family doctor reviewed her x-ray and confirmed it was time for a total knee replacement. Within six months she had been assessed, paired with a surgeon and fitted with a new knee.

“I can now enjoy taking my dog on walks and I’m looking forward to being able to sit on the floor and play puzzles with my grandchildren,” Ms. Cripps said.

Not too long ago, a patient like Ms. Cripps would have had to wait a year to 18 months. But Queensway Carleton Hospital and its partners have rebuilt their surgical program with a view to reduce wait times and improve the patient experience.

This new process funnels all referrals to a single location for triage. The patients are then referred to an assessment clinic at one of our hospital clinics – Cornwall, Montfort, QCH, The Ottawa Hospital or Pembroke – whichever is closest to their home where they’re assessed by specially-trained physiotherapists or nurses. Patients deemed appropriate candidates for surgery are given the opportunity to select their orthopedic surgeons based on both wait times and the location of the hospital, and educated on what to expect. This has cut wait times for assessments from one year to approximately one month, and cut wait times for surgery in half.

Expanding on this success

The success of the central intake program for hips and knees has resulted in the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care providing funding for a review to determine feasibility and benefits of expanding this program to include other orthopedic musculoskeletal conditions. These include foot and ankle, shoulder disorders, knee arthroscopy, cervical and thoracic spine conditions.

There’s no place like home

This year, Queensway Carleton Hospital also began to pilot same-day discharge for total joint surgeries. With the development of more advanced surgical techniques, total joint surgeries have become safer and more efficient than ever. By moving to same-day discharge patient satisfaction increases, there is a reduced risk of infection, and the hospital can help more patients each year.

QCH and Montfort were chosen to lead a new ‘bundled care’ program for the region. This program works to ensure that patients can choose where to get their post-operative physiotherapy – either at the same hospital where their surgery took place, a hospital closer to home or community physiotherapy clinic. It also ensures that no matter what choice the patient makes, they receive the same timely standardized care. This helps to improve the patient experience and outcomes, and reduces wait times.

“I could have done my surgery sooner if I had wanted to go to another hospital and with a different physician,” explains Nathalie Henkel, a mother-of-two who recently had both hips replaced. “(But) it is closer for me to come to QCH – it’s only a 20-minute drive from my home. Also, I wanted to stick with the surgeon that I knew.”

For years Ms. Henkel hadn’t been able to enjoy the active lifestyle that had always been second-nature to her, but surgery gave her her life back.

“Today, my physiotherapist said that I can start going to the gym and doing those things that I hadn’t been able to do in several years.”

The program success reflects how QCH strives to not only meet the needs of the Ottawa community, but to foster innovation and constantly improve – ensuring patients timely, quality care.

QCH will be sharing its program expertise with other hospitals over the coming year.

Learn more about our Advancing Surgery Campaign.