The operating room at Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke. (Submitted)

One year in, surgical pilot project at Revelstoke hospital going well

Starting in Dec. 2018 an additional day of surgeries each week was offered

It has been one year since a third surgical day, every week, has been offered at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke.

The project, which had been in the works since 2015, was funded for five years in 2017 and implemented in 2018.

Along with the funding came a target for the hospital to hit, which is an additional 240 cases for the year.

In Julie Lowes, manager for the hospital, said they were well on their way to meeting that target by March 2020, which is the end of the fiscal year.

Before Dec. 3, 2018, the Queen Victoria Hospital was only offering two surgical days a week and one surgical pre-screening day every two weeks.

However, the hospitals’ Perioperative Committee was hearing from surgeons, anesthetists and operating room nurses that this wasn’t enough.

READ MORE: Community donations bring dental surgeries to Revelstoke hospital

With the goal of staff retention, long term sustainability of the hospital as well as increased access to services for patients in Revelstoke, the committee began researching and planning what increased surgical offerings might look like.

“That’s always the challenge for rural, is having enough to be able to retain those physicians and staff so that they feel confident in their skill set,” Lowes said. “They have to have the volume to be able to support them in their work.”

The Queen Victoria Hospital has been offering a third surgical day for a year as part of a pilot project. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

In order to provide an additional surgical and pre-surgical screening day, the hospital has added three operating room nurse positions, one full time and two part time, as well as increasing the hours of the two already on the team.

The two medical device re-servicing positions were increased from part time to full time.

The operating room clerk position was increased from part time to full time.

There were increases to hours needed for other support departments such as house keeping and medical imaging as well as a new position for a unit clerk to work between the emergency room and acute care.

As part of the project, the hospital also hired a part time quality improvement nurse, who looks at audits and speaks to patients to do continuous quality improvement.

The additional days also mean more hours for the surgeons and anesthetists.

“It is important to be able to get that balance right so we can support and retain the staff in those areas,” said Lowes.

In order to ensure they met the goal of an additional 240 cases, the hospital is now offering additional surgical services that are done by specialists who visit as well as the surgeons who live locally.

Some of the new options include:

  • dental restorations
  • corrective jaw surgery
  • hernia repair
  • tonsillectomy
  • hysterectomy
  • ACL surgery
Julie Lowes is the manager of Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)

Lowes said one of the goals was to offer more services in Revelstoke so people don’t have to travel as much.

“As a small surgical site, we can support the bigger picture of wait lists throughout the health authority because patients can travel to us,” she added.

The additional offering of dental surgeries was a strategic move for the hospital, Lowes said, as the offering extends to children.

This was a way to give Revelstoke anesthetists more experience and practice working with children, as the hospital doesn’t see child patients on a day-to-day, even week-to-week basis, Lowes said.

In addition to the extended surgical hours, the pilot project has the surgeons networking and coaching, both in person and using a new peice of equipment that allows physicians to video chat with other physicians while in the operating room.

READ MORE: Revelstoke celebrates opening of Queen Victoria Hospital heliport

Lowes said that the project has been a group effort, with passionate hospital staff, family physicians and the community pitching in to help.

Funding for some of the new equipment needed came from the Revelstoke Hospital Auxiliary as well as the Revelstoke District Health Foundation.

The pilot project was funded in partnership between the Interior Health Surgical Strategy and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, which provided money for both the increased staffing and hours as well as some of the new equipment.



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