September 14, 2023

DRYDEN, ONTARIO - On September 11 and 12, 2023, the Dryden Regional Health Centre (DRHC) completed their inaugural spine procedures which included two Spinal Fusions and three Lumbar Decompressions. This program expansion aligns with DRHC's surgical model of care that includes care close to home whenever possible, responsible use of resources, and reduced wait times for patients.

Planning to bring spinal procedures to Dryden began in earnest in Fall 2022 as part of the regional spine program, and included staff engagement, education and program development.

"It has been a lot of work, however we have a dedicated team at DRHC that has worked to get this program off the ground," says Heather Fukushima, Director of Ambulatory and Surgical Services at DRHC. "Staff from across the organization- from administrative staff in surgical booking and specialty clinic, to support services, to the team of nurses caring for the patients during and after surgery -each of them played and important part in bringing spinal procedures to DRHC."

Dr. David Puskus, an orthopedic surgeon based out of Thunder Bay, traveled to Dryden to perform these spinal surgeries.

"The Regional Orthopedic Program has demonstrated that simple spine surgeries including spinal fusion can be safely completed in the region as a tactic to reduce waitlists for surgeries that can achieve good symptom management for patients," Dr. Puskas shared. "Dryden will be well-served by this program expansion as it offers better resource utilization on a systems level and offers skilled health professionals opportunity to expand their scope and offer care that will impact patient outcomes."

"I appreciate that I could have surgery locally; I can't imagine having to get in a vehicle to drive four or five hours after my surgery," stated patient Richard Kanceruk, and expressed his gratitude for the team in Dryden that performed his surgery on Monday. "Dryden is very lucky to have a surgeon with Dr. Puskus' skill and dedication coming to service our community."

"This a great accomplishment for the team and the organization as a whole," says Doreen Armstrong-Ross, President and Chief Executive Officer at DRHC. "Adding spines to the roster of procedures that can be performed in our Operating Room aligns with our strategic goal to adapt core services to better meet the needs our patients and maximize our use of resources."

"Congratulations to all of the staff involved in this exciting endeavour to the benefit of patients in our community," added Armstrong-Ross. "This speaks volumes to the highly skilled people in our organization that make progressive new programs like this possible in a Hospital of our size."


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