Bariatric Surgery Outcomes In The Yukon

sharma-obesity-whitehorseSome faithful readers may remotely recall that back in 2010, I travelled to Whitehorse in the Yukon to help set up a bariatric specialty clinic modelled on our Edmonton program.

Background for this initiative was the fact that we were receiving a number of referrals from the Yukon for patients who had to travel at great cost to Edmonton for consultations and surgery, with little to no follow up in Whitehorse. (A one-way trip from Whitehorse to Edmonton is 1995 km or 1240 miles).

Since my initial help in starting this program, the Whitehorse obesity specialty clinic, appropriately called the Whitehorse Klondyke Medical Clinic (run by Isabelle Gagnon, a family doctor, who has now dedicated much of her practice to bariatric care) has looked after a rather large number of patients with severe obesity.

My surgical colleague, Daniel Birch now regularly travels up to Whitehorse to see patients ready for surgery. These patients are then operated on in Edmonton, but all of the follow-up care in provided locally in Whitehorse.

Now, Angela Chan and colleagues publish paper in the American Journal of Surgery, which compares outcomes in the Yukon clinic to results in similar patients here in the Edmonton program.

The paper compares data from chart reviews of 20 patients at each site as well as patient/provider satisfaction measures assessed by questionnaires.

The Whitehorse cohort consisted of post-operative patients who reside in Yukon territory, who fly to Edmonton for their surgery only, but attend all pre and post-operative appointments locally at the Whitehorse Clinic.

Overall, both the outcomes and satisfaction between the two centres were very much comparable, with the only significant difference being a slightly more frequent follow-up in the Yukon.

Funnily enough, patients from the Yukon with access to local pre- and post-operative care were in fact happier with the ease and comfort of attending the clinic than the patients in Edmonton, who travel considerable distances from all over Alberta to the Edmonton program (on average 655 km or 407 miles).

Thus, it is indeed good to see that the initiative I helped kick off back in 2010 is now flourishing with patient outcomes as good (if not better) at a much lower cost and greater convenience to patients than before.

Edmonton, AB