Saskatoon StarPhoenix

City’s first private surgical centre opens

- JANET FRENCH jfrench@thestarpho­

Saskatoon’s first privately operated surgical centre has started taking patients.

The Prairievie­w Surgical Centre, which is in University Heights, began taking patients Monday, a Friday news release from the Saskatoon Health Region said.

Late last year, the region’s board approved a three-year contract with Surgical Centres Inc. (SCI) of Calgary to perform 7,200 day surgeries a year in the private facility.

“We are proud to work together and are extremely well positioned to meet the needs of the community, which requires contracted surgical procedures,” SCI chief operating officer Fatima Fazal said in the news release.

On Monday, the seven-operating room facility began pediatric dental surgeries on children older than two. Fazal said in an interview the surgical centre includes play rooms for children and cheerfully decorated rooms especially for young patients.

Some orthopedic procedures on knees and shoulders will begin at Prairievie­w at the end of February and ophthalmic surgeries should start there April 1.

Earlier this month, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchew­an accredited Prairievie­w to perform pediatric dental surgery. The college will assess the centre next week for orthopedic accreditat­ion, Fazal said, and again some time in March for eye surgeries.

The region has said moving some procedures to the private centre will save about $2 million a year and help pare down waiting lists.




The Regina Qu’appelle Health Region signed a similar contract with SCI to perform day surgeries in Regina, including ear, nose and throat, some orthopedic and children’s dental surgeries. The company had hoped to open the Regina five-bed surgical centre this week, but hit a snag when the contractor discovered soldering on oxygen lines did not meet code requiremen­ts. Fazal said the Regina Surgical Centre will be ready to receive patients Friday.

The college of physicians and surgeons is expected to examine the Regina centre for accreditat­ion today.

Both centres have had delayed openings. The regions had originally hoped to have patients in by fall, then that date was nudged to January.

SHR points out in its news release the new Saskatoon surgical centre complies with the Canada Health Act, in that no patient is required to pay directly for services and people willing to pay cannot queue jump.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare, however, has expressed concerns about the move. It says the centres must be watched closely to ensure they’re not favouring patients with more straightfo­rward cases, they’re sharing personal health informatio­n securely, don’t poach health care workers from the public system and have outcomes that are as good as in-hospital surgeries.

SCI already operates two surgical centres in Alberta and two in B.C. It has performed more than 140,000 procedures in the last 23 years, the company says in a news release.

The regions’ choices to award the contracts to an out-of-province bidder upset two private surgical centres already operating in the province. Omni Surgery Centre in Regina and the Saskatoon Surgicentr­e already perform some contracted procedures for the health regions and say their businesses will be affected by the change.

Both private surgery deals are part of the Saskatchew­an Surgical Initiative, which aims to reduce wait times for Saskatchew­an patients to no more than three months by 2014.

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