Hospitals continue to improve ambulatory care system

March 18, 2012 - 12:40pm Updated: March 18, 2012 - 5:00pm

Hospitals across the province are continuing to try and improve the quality of patient care in their Ambulatory Care department.

More and more procedures that used to involve an operating room are now being performed in an out-patient environment, which reduces surgery wait times and stress on the patient.

Sheila Long, Ambulatory Care nursing manager at Victoria Hospital said this initiative includes Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert.

“We are looking at what do we need to do in the operating room and what we can take out, so that more patients can get through the OR and not wait, because provincially we have said that nobody should wait longer than three months for surgery by the year 2014,” she said.

“We are leading the province in those goals,” she added. “And we are looking at our efficiency, so that we are doing the right thing, at the right place, in the right time.”

Currently two gynecological procedures are being practised at Victoria Hospital that used to involve surgery, but can now be performed using minimal sedation in an out-patient setting. This allows the patient to go home that night.

Those procedures are Novasure, which is a unique radio frequency impedance technology that addresses heavy menstrual bleeding, and Essure; an outpatient tubal ligation procedure.

“The first one you avoid a hysterectomy and the second you avoid again an operation,” Long said.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Something else coming soon to the health district and across Saskatchewan is Fecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT testing).

“The newest thing in colon screening to try and find out if you might be growing a polyp, which can lead to cancer,” Long said.

A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue projecting from a mucous membrane.

“It’s Fecal Immunochemical Testing, so your stool sample is tested in lab and if it is indicated that you have appositive outcome than you are sent for a colonoscopy.”

“Everyone should be aware that they have the potential to have a polyp in their colon, so this is a way to stream line these patients,” she added.

“But this is also easier for the patient, it’s one sample that they can take to their doctor, which is easier instead of getting a scope put in your colon.”

Premier Brad Wall stated the province would strengthen cancer care in Saskatchewan by instituting a colorectal screening program in the province.

Each year 1.6-million endoscopies are performed in Canada. The demand is exceeding the ability to perform procedure.

“The demand is growing,” Long said. “The age of patients, the boomers are all starting to have to think about colon screening. But colon cancer isthe second leading cause of cancer death so we have to be aware of it.”

“At age 50 you should start thinking and talking to your doctor about what you should be thinking about for colon screening and of course practicing a healthy lifestyle,” she added.

Long said soon the cancer society will begin mailing FIT kits with instructions to individuals during their birthday months that will include instructions and everything you need to do. You than take the sample into to your local lab to be screened and that will determine whether you need a colonoscopy.

The recommended age for this test is between 50 and 74.