WDHB launches 'Fit for Surgery' strategy
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12 October 2015
 
Whanganui Hospital’s head anaesthetist Marco Meijer wants to encourage every adult living in the Whanganui district to make sure they are fit for surgery if, and when, they need an operation.
 
To mark World Anaesthesia Day on Friday 16 October, Dr Meijer has called a meeting this week with senior doctors to launch the Whanganui District Health Board’s (WDHB) new ‘Fit for Surgery’ strategy developed in conjunction with primary health providers.
 
“At the moment the strategy targets patients already in the hospital system,” Dr Meijer says. “It’s all about optimising patients’ conditions prior to their surgery to minimise the risk of complications during, and after, surgery.
 
“While we’re very good at addressing high blood pressure, anaemia, and diabetes with surgical patients, the time has come for us to look at the issue of obesity which really is becoming a growing concern for clinicians.
 
“The strategy includes a multi-disciplinary approach to weight loss. It includes offering access to dietitians, physiotherapists, diabetic nurses and sports rehabilitative activities such as Green Prescription as a key part of the approach.
 
“At this point, I’m socialising the strategy with senior hospital doctors only but Whanganui Regional Health Network clinical director primary care Julie Nitschke and I hope to extend the initiative to include the primary healthcare sector.
 
“The focus of my talk on Thursday is going to be obesity and anaesthesia or more specifically, the impact that obesity has on anaesthesia.”
 
Dr Meijer says, on Friday morning Whanganui Hospital’s anaesthetists will take it in turns to position themselves in the hospital’s Main Entrance to discuss anaesthesia and what it entails with members of the public interested in finding out why they need to be fit for surgery.
 
He says while the WDHB’s strategy is based on the learnings of other DHBs, Whanganui’s focus will be on primary and community health initiatives aimed at encouraging patients to make permanent lifestyle changes.
 
“We want to help patients manage their health and maintain their pre-surgery weight loss. Initially the strategy will cover patients booked in for elective hip and knee replacement surgery then we’ll roll it out to cover all elective surgery.
 
It’s a work in progress. The exciting thing is knowing that Canterbury DHB has been very successful in helping their patients achieve, and maintain, their pre-surgery fitness. Around 80 to 90 percent of their overweight patients get down to their pre-op target weight. I would like to think that in time, we will extend the push for lifestyle change to our staff and the community as a whole.”