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Provincial Digest

New hip and knee surgery centre A new state-of-the-art surgical facility in Edmonton will focus exclusively on hip and knee surgery, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS).

New hip and knee surgery centre

A new state-of-the-art surgical facility in Edmonton will focus exclusively on hip and knee surgery, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS). Starting last month, the newly opened orthopedic surgery centre on the Royal Alexandra Hospital campus consolidated hip and knee surgeries into one high-efficiency surgical environment.

AHS board chair Ken Hughes said the move will result in increased efficiency and a more effective use of health professionals' time and energy.

"The use of consistent care pathways and best-practice processes will ensure the healthiest outcomes for the patients served here," Hughes said, in a statement.

The initial operational plan for the site includes transferring about 24 beds and running two operating rooms to complete 1,400 existing low-intensity arthroplasty procedures previously done at the Royal Alex. High intensity surgeries will continue to be completed at the hospital's main surgical suite.

The new 56-bed facility includes in-house central services, rehabilitation and basic diagnostic imaging capability. New computerized laser navigation equipment for implant placement will be available in the operating rooms and is anticipated to improve quality of surgery and patient outcomes.

According to AHS, the majority of in-patient rooms at the centre are private, offering improved infection control. Rooms are larger than standard patient rooms, which will enable patients and physiotherapists to move around easily and safely.

The centre will support about 3,500 to 4,000 cases each year when it is operating at full capacity.

In-school mental health bolstered

The province will give more than $19 million to help prevent mental illness in children and families and to promote mental health through school-based programs, according to a statement released by Alberta Health Services earlier this month.

"Children are our future and we need them to be healthy and strong — physically, mentally and spiritually," said Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Health and Wellness, in a statement.

The three-year funding commitment coincides with the province's new five-year health action plan, which was also unveiled earlier this month.

The Mental Health Capacity Building initiative is led by Alberta Health Services in partnership with Alberta Education, school authorities, community agencies and families to implement children's mental health service models in schools. The renewed funding supports integrated school-based community mental health promotion and prevention projects.

"School-based programs help ensure that we are providing accessible care to children and families," said Dr. Chris Eagle, acting president and chief executive officer, Alberta Health Services. "Quality mental health care for children is a province-wide priority; and part of a broader mental health strategy to increase the amount and type of community based services."

There are currently 31 school-based, community-driven project sites across the province. An additional seven new project sites are coming on board this year.

The projects provide a range of free services and support activities for children, youth and their families, including mental health coaches and therapists, addictions counsellors, plus parent workshops and after-school clubs and recreational activities for students.