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Urology wait times a stressor


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.

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

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 stent 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.

Concerns

In 2012 when urology patients 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.

Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

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