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  • Winnipeg Tribune

Province making hip and knee replacements out of province

Wednesday, August 24, 2022 - Hundreds of Manitobans who are waiting for a hip or knee replacement surgery will be able to access care more quickly with three new agreements recently signed by the Manitoba government.

Through the work of the task force, the province has signed agreements that will help connect more patients with orthopedic surgeries, like hip or knee replacements, at three out-of-province clinics.

“These new agreements will help more Manitobans regain their mobility, wellness and quality of life,” said Dr. Peter MacDonald, chair of the task force steering committee. “Manitoba physicians and other members of the patient’s health-care team will work closely with out-of-province providers to ensure a smooth process for patients. This includes the planning leading up to their surgery, as well as an integrated plan for followup care when they return to Manitoba.”

At the end of this month, a pilot project with Big Thunder Orthopedic Associates in northwestern Ontario will launch with six patients. It is expected the program will expand to provide care for as many as 20 to 30 people per month, or around 300 procedures per year, at locations in Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora as the program is fully implemented said Gordon.

“We are excited to be a part of this pilot project with Manitoba that will benefit patients from both sides of the border,” said Dr. Dave Puskas, orthopedic surgeon, Big Thunder Orthopedic Associates. “We have created the capacity to accomplish Ontario wait times and provide assistance to our neighbouring province. This relationship acknowledges the movement of patients between the two provinces and softens the border so Canadians can receive care where and when they need it.”

Manitoba is also building on its agreement with Sanford Health in North Dakota, which has provided spinal surgeries to 28 eligible patients in recent months. In September, up to 10 patients per month are expected to travel to the clinic for hip or knee surgeries, the minister noted, adding that 125 procedures may be completed this year, with capacity growing to 250 procedures in 2023-24.

A third agreement has also been signed with the Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio, for hip surgeries. This project is expected to launch later in September, with 100 people expected to receive this care and another 200 in the following year.

Eligible people will be identified by their Manitoba health-care provider and then contacted to determine if they wish to travel for care. The task force has also put a new process in place so Manitobans who need one of these procedures and are willing to travel out of province can self-identify after reviewing the eligibility criteria online at After submitting their information through an e-form or email, the task force will work with them and their Manitoba health-care provider to determine if one of these out-of-province sites are an option.

From January to June this year, more than 2,250 hip and knee surgeries were completed in Manitoba, which is more than the number completed in the previous two years during the same time frame (more than 1,900 in 2020, nearly 1,800 in 2021 and near pre-pandemic levels in 2019). However, as wait-lists expanded during the COVID-19 response, the number of patients who need this procedure and their wait times have increased.

“We are seeing important signs of recovery in our surgical systems,” said Dr. Ed Buchel, surgical lead on the task force’s steering committee. “Manitoba’s surgical teams are innovative and committed to finding and implementing longer-term improvements that will build capacity in our province.”

The minister noted work is also ongoing within the province to increase surgical and diagnostic capacity and address the backlogs caused by COVID-19. One tool used by the government is Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA), which contracts health services from public and private partners. In this fiscal year, the RFSA will result in more than 20,000 additional procedures being contracted, including cataracts, outpatient orthopedic procedures, ear-nose-throat surgery, urology procedures, foot/hand procedures, pediatric dental surgery and endoscopies, hernia treatments, plastic surgery, and varicose veins. There are regular RFSA intakes to continue to potentially expand capacity for these procedures.

The task force’s surgical and diagnostic dashboard, which will provide monthly updates on median wait times, the number of people on wait-lists and completed procedures is expected to launch online in September.

The Manitoba government has committed $110 million dollars this year to address surgical and diagnostic wait-lists, to ensure Manitobans get the procedures they need, sooner. The Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force was established in December 2021 to identify and implement these solutions.

For more information about the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force, visit


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