British Columbia Premier John Horgan meets Teresa Zurberg, the trainer of Angus, the superbug sniffing dog, before a press conference at Vancouver General Hospital on March 21, 2018. Photo courtesy of Government of British Columbia.

Premier honours VCH staff during hip and knee announcement

“There are a whole lot of people behind every surgery.”

That message came through loud and clear as Vancouver Coastal Health CEO Mary Ackenhusen watched British Columbia Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix address a packed Diamond Courtyard at Vancouver General Hospital on Wednesday.

The provincial government chose VGH as the spot to launch its new provincial surgical strategy and reveal plans to increase operations and cut wait times for patients awaiting hip and knee replacement surgeries.

“I love that they’re recognizing the importance of health care and how they’re recognizing the health care providers,” Mary said after the press conference. “You heard the HEU, BCNU and allied staff mentioned. That was very important for me to see.”

Elder Roberta Price and Vancouver Coastal Health CEO Mary Ackenhusen chat after the Premier’s press conference at Vancouver General Hospital on March 21, 2018. Photo: Matt Kieltyka/VCH

One of those people is Dr. Bassam Masri, Vancouver Acute surgeon-in-chief.

Wednesday’s announcement meant VCH will be able to perform 1,058 more hip and knee replacements in the next fiscal year, a 29 per cent increase, and meet the province’s goal of reducing wait times so that 95 per cent of his patients can have surgery within the 26-week benchmark.

Dr. Masri was a featured speaker at the press conference, as was 75-year-old Christopher Hebb, who has had two hip replacement surgeries and is still able to hike several times a week with his wife thanks to Dr. Masri and his team.

“It’s exciting that the Premier chose Vancouver Coastal as the first stop [to announce the strategy]. It sends a message that Vancouver Coastal means a lot to the province,” said Dr. Masri. “The important part is that we’re going to be able to reduce waiting times for patients and meet the targets we’ve been asked to achieve. The other bit I’m really excited about is integrating OASIS with the surgeons’ practices so that we can finally practice in a team setting, in a holistic manner for patients.”

Dr. Bassam Masri speaks at a press conference announcing more hip and knee surgeries at Vancouver General Hospital on March 21, 2018. Photo courtesy of Government of British Columbia.

Hebb expressed his gratitude to Dr. Masri and the staff at UBC Hospital who performed his surgeries and set him on a quick path to recovery.

“I’m immensely impressed by the dedication and service of Dr. Masri and all his staff,” Hebb said.

The audience was equally impressed by Hebb’s story of recovery. Shortly after his second surgery in 2015, he was back to riding horses on the range, playing golf and hiking up mountains.

Last summer, he tackled the Grouse Grind for the first time since his surgeries and plans to conquer it again soon.

He ended his remarks with a challenge to fellow hip or knee replacement patients.

“We’re provided with the tools and opportunity. It’s up to us to stay health and to stay active,” he said.

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