Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) officials hope some RAC time will reduce wait times for citizens waiting for hip and knee replacements.
Lisa Northcott, head of nursing for the alliance, said Rapid Access Clinics (RACs) will start this month in the hospital. These clinics will help specifically with knee and hip issues.
“When a patient complains about pain in the knee or hip to their primary care provider, they used to be referred directly to an orthopedic specialist. Sometimes, they’d wait months to see that specialist,” she said. “Their primary care provider will now be referring them to a RAC.”
In that manner, Northcott said a patient should be seen in two weeks or less by a physiotherapist to assess that patient’s situation.
“They’ll provide patients with an individual care plan. That could include a referral to a surgeon, or an exercise program to help the patient remain active.”
That diversion to exercise or even physiotherapy is the main reason behind the RACs. Northcott said upwards of 40 per cent of patients complaining about knee or hip pain don’t need a joint replacement. But they are taking up a great deal of an orthopedic surgeon’s time.
“If we can pull those people out of the queue for orthopedic specialists, we’ll be able to reduce wait times for those who need it,” she said.
What’s more, Northcott said for anyone who needs to see a specialist, they can pick the doctor with the shortest wait time in the region if they so desire.