St. Joseph's Hospital wants to boost orthopedic surgery capacity

·3 min read
Dr. Brendan Sheehan, an orthopedic surgeon in Saint John, said St. Joe's current equipment for joint preservation and reconstruction is outdated.  (Submitted by Laurie Flood - image credit)
Dr. Brendan Sheehan, an orthopedic surgeon in Saint John, said St. Joe's current equipment for joint preservation and reconstruction is outdated. (Submitted by Laurie Flood - image credit)

St. Joseph's Hospital is working to reduce wait times for New Brunswickers in need of orthopedic surgery.

St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation is currently fundraising for new equipment to support the joint preservation and reconstruction program, which includes shoulder, foot, ankle, knee, elbow, hand and wrist surgeries.

Dr. Brendan Sheehan, an orthopedic surgeon in Saint John, said these types of surgeries have been done at St. Joe's for quite some time but the current equipment is outdated.

"It's quite old, and as techniques have advanced for joint preservation and reconstruction, certainly the technology available has also advanced to allow us to do that job more efficiently and more effectively and less invasively," he told Information Morning Saint John.

The upgrades will help a broad range of patients, according to Sheehan. He said it will be used for people struggling with daily pain from joint problems like rotator cuff tears, meniscus tears, and ankle arthritis.

"These are all focused at reestablishing function for people so that they can get back to their daily life, the activities they love and their jobs," he said.

Matthew Bingley/CBC
Matthew Bingley/CBC

The equipment will not be used for major surgeries like knee and hip replacements.

Sheehan said he's optimistic the upgrades could result in shorter wait times for more patients.

"The big thing is that it will allow us to really upgrade the quality of interventions that we're providing and the efficiency with which we're providing them," he said. "So all of those things lead to improvements at all levels, including, hopefully, access to care."

Fundraising goal sits at $200K

Laurie Flood, executive director of St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation, said the goal is to raise $200,000 by the end of September. This amount is expected to cover the total cost of the new equipment.

Flood said a number of community groups have stepped up to help promote and raise funds for the campaign through small events around the city.

She said new equipment is the final missing piece to increase orthopedic surgeries at the hospital.

"We have a surgical suite that we would be able to utilize, and a new orthopedic surgeon will be joining us in the fall," she said. "Everything has aligned to make this program happen, except for the equipment which is why we are fundraising."

With the new recruit, the hospital's orthopedic team will rise to 10.

Further expansion to orthopedic services 

More than 1,000 patients have had hip or knee replacement surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital since an orthopedic pilot project launched in 2020, according to Flood. She said this cut in half the number of patients waiting more than a year for their surgery.

While the pilot project is officially over, the surgeries it introduced continue.

Sheehan calls the expansion of orthopedics at St. Joe's "a success."

"It's allowed us to certainly treat people by allowing them to have their surgery done at St. Joseph's Hospital when they're medically fit enough for that," he said. "And then it opens up time at the tertiary care hospital, the Regional Hospital, for other things that need the services."