August 16th, 2018

Patient says cancelled surgery taking its toll

By Tim Kalinowski on May 20, 2017.

Al Gray was one of the many patients who had his surgery cancelled due to the sterlization issues at the hospital. Gray has been waiting for his knee surgery for about six months and had family come in at great expense from out of town to care for him while he recovered.--NEWS PHOTO TIM KALINOWSKI

One local patient who had his elective surgery cancelled last week due to the ongoing sterilization problems at the hospital, says the experience has been frustrating, costly and depressing.

Al Gray was supposed to have knee surgery May 15 but like many others had his surgery suddenly cancelled by the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, as it tried track down the cause of a mysterious residue in its washing/ sterilization machines.

“A number of months ago, I went into Dr. Filanti and I say I have a bad knee and can’t walk very well,” recalls Gray, “and he immediately referred me to Dr. Bering (the surgeon). Dr. Bering said we’ll schedule your surgery for May 15. That gave me months of planning. You have to do innumerable medical tests, blood test, ECGs, hospital visits; it’s a lot of preparation.”

Gray also had to arrange for two of his children to come home to help him get through his recovery period. His son was supposed to fly in from Toronto to help, and his daughter was already in the city, after flying in from Winnipeg, only to learn the long-awaited surgery had been cancelled. Gray says it was like letting air out of a balloon.

“There is a tremendous depression involved in all this, because you have built up mentally and physically working toward this. And then crash … Nothing.”

Gray, a former chemist with a great deal of laboratory experience, realizes the hospital has to follow proper protocols for the safety of everyone involved. But still…

“If you are going to sterilize surgical instruments, they have to be perfect. You can’t argue with that. But you can say: A brand new building. A brand new everything. What is the problem?”

Gray says he has not yet heard when his surgery will be rescheduled.

“They haven’t told me another date or time; they haven’t even said we’ll call you.”

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