More than 500 more orthopedic surgeries will be performed over the next year as a result of a Department of Health-approved contract between Capital Health and Scotia Surgery Inc. Health Minister Chris d’Entremont announced the demonstration project today, March 12, that will allow Capital Health surgeons to use Scotia Surgery’s operating-room facilities to conduct publicly insured, minor orthopaedic surgical procedures. The project will also free space at Capital Health’s VG and Dartmouth General Hospital sites for surgeons to tackle more complex orthopedic cases. “The Scotia Surgery project presents a significant opportunity to begin addressing long patient waits for orthopedic surgery,” said Mr. d’Entremont. “Ultimately, this could have a major impact on the quality of lives of patients and their families. Nova Scotians want timely access to quality health care, and this project is an innovative way to meet their needs.” The Scotia Surgery clinic, located in Dartmouth, is equipped and accredited to accommodate low risk, day-surgery procedures for Capital Health, including knee, ankle, foot and shoulder scopes, and hardware removal. The one-year project will begin next month. The Department of Health and Capital District Health Authority will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of using a private health facility to reduce wait times for patients for publicly delivered services. “Wait times for cardiac and cancer in Capital District have greatly improved and are within national standards,” said Dr. H. Jaap Bonjer, head of the Dalhousie University surgery department and Capital District Health Authority chief of surgery. “Timely access to orthopedic surgery is our greatest current concern. Performing orthopedic day surgeries at Scotia Surgery will free up capacity at CDHA for orthopedic surgeries which require admission to the hospital, such as hip and knee replacements.” The Department of Health is allocating almost $1 million of its orthopedic budget to support the project. “Nova Scotia has a strong public health-care system and we are committed to maintaining and improving it,” said Mr. d’Entremont. “At the same time, it sometimes makes sense to augment the system to help patients get treatment faster. “We are proud to be taking a national leadership role in reducing wait times, and to be working with partners like Capital Health and Scotia Surgery to find innovative ways to ensure Nova Scotians receive quality care in a timely fashion.” The government of Nova Scotia has made reducing wait times one of its top five priorities.