Getting fit for surgery in care plan
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and Sport Whanganui have launched a Fit for Surgery, Fit for Life programme to help patients lose weight and improve fitness before elective surgery.
Led by WDHB head anaesthetist Marco Meijer, the programme was developed with Sport Whanganui. Overweight patients risk developing medical complications, including slow recovery after general anaesthetic, blood clots, breathing difficulties, wound infections and complications with pain relief, during and after surgery. Dr Meijer established a project group to develop a programme with long-term benefits for patients.
“The aim of the programme is a lifestyle change that will see significantly overweight patients reduce their weight and lift their fitness levels for surgery while continuing to maintain these changes for the rest of their life,” Dr Meijer says. Hospital staff and GPs refer patients to Sport Whanganui where Fit for Surgery, Fit for Life navigator and nurse Christine Taylor assesses them and develops individual care plans.
This results in fewer complications post-surgery, and possibly reduced hospital stays. Dr Meijer says ideally, once a patient embarks on the programme they may not need surgery.