Big impact by small St. Mary's Hospital orthopedic team

St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose is considered a medium-sized healthcare facility, but it is doing some big things. The orthopedic surgery team performs between 700 and 800 surgeries each year. Of these surgeries, about 320 of them are total joint replacements.

“St. Mary’s is a unique site—we’re smaller and have a small team, which allows us to adapt more quickly. We have strong continuity of care and are very proud of the work our colleagues do. Our operating room is a wonderful place to work,” explains Dr. Sunail Kumar, Orthopedic Surgeon.

Sunail is one of the reasons the number of orthopedic surgeries have almost doubled in the last 14 years. He draws patients from a large catchment area.

“I like knowing that I can do a lot for patients who are having problems walking or doing their everyday activities. Once we replace a hip or knee, they feel great and their lifestyle changes. It’s very rewarding,” explains Sunail.

Paige Bailey, OR Manager, says it takes a large and strong team to provide patients with compassionate, high-quality care in the OR. She notes some of the team aren’t part of the surgical procedure but are vital to the whole team’s success.

“In a smaller centre you’re really able to encourage the feeling that you’re very important and we can’t do this without you. It’s a team effort; I like that feeling,” says Paige. “When we turn over for a case, nurses and housekeepers clean together. That’s how we do things here.”

Rural acute hospitals can have challenges finding enough fully trained OR nurses for casual positions. Paige says at St. Mary’s the team and administration have taken a creative approach to this problem. They post one-year temporary positions and train new nursing staff. In return, the nurses provide St. Mary’s with one year of service.

Taylor Volk, Registered Nurse, in the OR

“I have never woken up and not wanted to come to work. Coming to work is really easy when you work with amazing people—surgeons, staff and your manager,” says Taylor Volk, Registered Nurse.

Paige says the OR team is motivated to improve people’s lives, but they don’t often get to see the results of their work. Sunail shares with the team how patients are recovering, but it’s the direct thank-yous that provide the real boost.

“Sometimes we hear from patients after their surgery. They send cards, and sometimes even homemade muffins. This helps fuel the fire; we know we’re doing good things here,” say Paige. 

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