Urol­ogy wait times a stres­sor

Bay Roberts man one of many wait­ing four to six weeks for ‘ur­gent’ surgery

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

A urol­ogy pa­tient with Eastern Health is speak­ing out af­ter he learned he will wait be­tween four and six weeks for a surgery that he says was deemed ur­gent by his doc­tor.

Edgar Dawe of Bay Roberts has a “sig­nif­i­cant” ob­struc­tion in the ureter, the tube lead­ing from the kid­ney to the blad­der, which is caus­ing health prob­lems.

Af­ter a CT scan was or­dered by his fam­ily doc­tor, he re­ceived an im­me­di­ate re­ply.

“The doc­tor said it had to be at­tended to as quickly as pos­si­ble, and got an im­me­di­ate re­fer­ral,” his daugh­ter Char­lene Dawe-Roach told The Compass.

Within a week, he was at­tend­ing an ap­point­ment.

Speak­ing up

Dawe and Dawe-Roach ex­plained that they be­lieve there is a se­ri­ous is­sue with wait times in cer­tain de­part­ments with Eastern Health, and they fear it may be some­one’s life that’s af­fected while wait­ing for surgery.

“The urol­ogy depart­ment of the health science can not pro­vide the proper and re­quired ser­vice to its pa­tients be­cause of a lack of op­er­at­ing room time,” Dawe stated.

For Dawe, a tem­po­rary fix is work­ing for now, but he must still wait for the surgery.

“With hopes of sav­ing the kid­ney, he said he was go­ing to put a stint in to by­pass the ob­struc­tion,” Dawe-Roach ex­plained, not­ing if her fa­ther waited any longer he may have lost the kid­ney al­to­gether.

The stint was put in im­me­di­ately and Dawe was told he would have to wait for an ap­point­ment to get sched­uled. The es­ti­mated wait time for this surgery was ex­pected to be a month.

“I asked the doc­tor if it would be that long be­cause he was wait­ing on the kid­ney to heal or what,” Dawe-Roach stated. “But he said there was no OR (op­er­at­ing room) time.”

Dawe added, “He said ide­ally he would have liked to get me into surgery in the next two to three days.”

It has been a frus­trat­ing few weeks for the fam­ily, but Dawe has been do­ing well since his stint was put in.

Eastern Health re­sponds

In an email re­sponse from Eastern Health, spokesper­son Zelda Burt said wait times vary de­pen­dant on the type of surgery, the ur­gency from the sur­geon and some­times staffing.

“Due to the wide va­ri­ety of urol­ogy pro­ce­dures Eastern Health per­forms, such as pro­ce­dures for blad­der can­cer, prostate can­cer and re­moval (of ) kid­ney stones, we do not have an over­all av­er­age wait time for urol­ogy pro­ce­dures in gen­eral. There is no na­tional bench­mark for urol­ogy pro­ce­dures,” Burt said.

But she also sup­plied some statis­tics to con­firm the con­cerns Dawe has with wait times, although in­for­ma­tion was not pro­vided on his spe­cific pro­ce­dure,

From Oc­to­ber to the end of De­cem­ber, Eastern Health con­firmed that 90 per cent of blad­der surgery pa­tients re­ceived surgery within 56 days. Al­most half of the pa­tients had their surg­eries within 21 days.

The Health Sciences Cen­tre in St. John’s op­er­ates 11 op­er­at­ing rooms, and nu­mer­ous surg­eries in each ev­ery day.

“The av­er­age num­ber of sur­gi­cal cases com­pleted within Eastern Health per day is ap­prox­i­mately 90. At the Health Sciences Cen­tre, the daily av­er­age is ap­prox­i­mately 45 sur­gi­cal cases, of which ap­prox­i­mately 5-12 cases are urol­ogy,” said Burt.


In 2012 when urol­ogy pa- tients were be­ing flown to Hal­i­fax for treat­ment, there was a de­mand for more urol­o­gists. Since then, more have been re­cruited and hired. There are seven urol­o­gists ac­tively work­ing with Eastern Health.

But Dawe-Roach said the num­ber of urol­o­gists doesn’t mat­ter if the wait times are not suf­fi­cient.

She and her fa­ther fear that ru­mours of cer­tain spe­cial­ties tak­ing pri­or­ity if there are can­cel­la­tions may be ac­cu­rate. For ex­am­ple, if a can­cel­la­tion oc­curs, some­one wait­ing on a colostomy for bowel can­cer could still have to wait, but some­one who needs a block­age in their artery fixed could get the call first.

Eastern Health de­nies that is the case, at least in the in­stance of elec­tive surg­eries, which Dawe’s is not. Burt said elec­tive surg­eries are ro­tated by depart­ment, and pri­or­ity is not given to any par­tic­u­lar spe­cialty.

“This ro­ta­tion is an at­tempt to en­sure that pa­tients with a spe­cific health is­sue are not im­pacted more than those with an­other health is­sue,” she ex­plained. “Our goal is to con­tinue mon­i­tor­ing wait times closely and to im­ple­ment strate­gies to help im­prove wait times for var­i­ous med­i­cal pro­ce­dures and tests.”

Dawe and Dawe-Roach just hope wait times will im­prove, and that no one gets left be­hind be­cause of lack of op­er­at­ing room time.

“I just can’t imag­ine some­body telling me or telling some­body that be­longs to me that you have blad­der can­cer and you need surgery to get it out, but I can’t fit you in,” Dawe-Roach said.

“It’s not right,” Dawe ex­plained.


Edgar Dawe (left) and his daugh­ter Char­lene Dawe-Roach are dis­ap­pointed in the wait times.

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