Northern Lights Health Centre performs first ever knee replacement.

Randy Balsom, 61 yr old Fort McMurray man after knee replacement. AHS supplied image
Randy Balsom, 61 yr old Fort McMurray man after knee replacement. AHS supplied image

The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre is celebrating a milestone in patient care.

Recently, the hospital performed Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo’s first-ever knee replacement surgery as part of its new hip-and-knee (arthroplasty) surgical program. The surgical program is part of the Alberta Surgical Initiative (ASI), which was launched by Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Health in 2019 to reduce surgical wait times for Albertans.

Randy Balsom, a 61-year-old Fort McMurray resident, became the program’s pioneer patient.

“It’s great to have a service like this right here in Fort McMurray,” said Balsom.

“The care I received was top-notch, and it was all a smooth experience… I was walking around with some help — even up a few steps — a short time after my surgery.”

Logan Clow, Communications Advisor with AHS, said Balsom was able to return to his own home just one day after the operation.

Before Balsom’s knee surgery, about 50 hip surgeries had been completed at Northern Lights since the arthroplasty program began in July 2023. Currently, hospital surgical teams anticipate performing up to 32 surgeries every month.

“Our skilled physician and surgical team have done a fantastic job in ensuring the successful launch of this new surgical program,” says Dr. Fauzia Haq Nawaz, Facility Medical Director for Northern Lights Regional Health Centre and Willow Square Continuing Care Centre.

“Having the ability to offer this service is a huge win.”

“We’re incredibly excited to now be completing knee-replacement surgeries,” adds Kelsey Hickey, Manager of Inpatient Surgery and Medical Device Reprocessing at the hospital.

According to AHS, most hip and knee surgeries are completed within 60 to 90 minutes. Patients are discharged within a day or two. Health centers in Hinton, Grande Prairie, Bonnyville, and Westlock also provide these surgeries across the AHS North Zone.

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