Brenda Andrews, 62, loves hiking, biking and skiing, but in January 2021 she could barely walk.
She has severe arthritis in both knees and has been on the waiting list for knee replacement surgery for 15 months.
“It’s a bit of a helpless situation,” Andrews said in an interview. “And I think the frustrating part is that Saskatchewan was the birthplace of medicare.”
Andrews said she couldn’t walk up and down stairs easily or carry heavy objects. His pain worsens and sometimes “grinds his teeth”.
Andrews, who lives in Kamsack, had to repeatedly travel nearly 270 kilometers to Regina to receive artificial injections of joint fluid, which are not covered by his health insurance plan, to relieve pain and joint inflammation.
She said she spent more than $2,000 on injections, travel and physiotherapy.
Andrews’ operation is still a long way off. Her doctors told her she was set for surgery in early 2023.
30% of knee surgeries within reference limits
In the first 18 months of the pandemic, only 30% of Saskatchewanians had knee replacement surgery within the six-month national benchmark, according to the latest report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
Saskatchewan did the worst of any province on this front. The Prairie province also had the worst wait times for hip replacement surgeries, with 43% of people getting a new hip within the recommended six-month timeframe.
Nationally, 59% of Canadians who needed knee replacement surgery got it within the recommended time frame, and 65% of Canadians who needed hip replacement surgery also got it within the recommended time frame. six months recommended.
Before the pandemic, about 70% of patients nationwide had their knees replaced within the recommended time frame.
The report does not include data on the impact of coronavirus surges caused by the Delta variant, or Omicron and its subvariants, on wait times.
Saskatchewan health services, including elective procedures, organ transplants and cancer treatments, were suspended in September so health care workers could focus their efforts on tackling record numbers of COVID-19. These procedures began to gradually resume during the second week of November.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said Monday that provincial surgical capacity was around 97% over the past three months, with some communities exceeding their scheduled surgeries.
However, there are still about 34,000 to 35,000 people awaiting procedures, according to Merriman.
“We have scaled up our surgical procedures both in the publicly funded private sector but also in the public sector…to be able to meet these needs,” he said.