By Jessica Long
For almost a decade, a limited number of minimally invasive surgeries (MIS) were being completed at Colchester East Hants Health Centre (CEHHC). This was mainly because there were not enough surgeons with advanced training in specific surgical procedures.
To address this gap in available health services, Dr. Ahmed Jad, general and bariatric surgeon at CEHHC in Truro, obtained special training and then set to work both reinstating laparoscopic surgeries and establishing a bariatric surgery program in the Northern Zone.
“We are trying to utilize CEHHC to its deserved capacity and potential by offering laparoscopic surgery, which is standard of care across most of Canada, and starting a bariatric surgery program to help the patients who will benefit from weight loss,” explained Dr. Jad.
Originally from a small town in Egypt, Dr. Jad completed medical school and residency training at Dalhousie University. He worked at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish before completing a fellowship in bariatric and metabolic surgery at Université Laval in Quebec City. He then returned to Nova Scotia and is currently a general and bariatric surgeon at the CEHHC.
Minimally invasive surgery is designed to cause less damage to the tissues than open surgery. It is associated with less pain, faster recovery and shorter hospital stay and it involves using small incisions (cuts). The surgeon can see inside of the body using a camera and perform the surgery through the small incisions. This type of procedure can effectively treat colon tumors, hernias and in some cases bowel obstructions and it is also used for bariatric surgeries. For cases that require two surgeons, for example colon cancer surgeries and bariatric surgeries, Dr. Jad works with Dr. Najeeb Abdul Kadir, a general surgeon with over 30 years of experience in minimally invasive procedures.
Bariatric surgery, a procedure not previously available at CEHHC, is commonly referred to as a weight-loss surgery. Bariatric surgeries require a larger team, including Dr. Jad and Dr. Kadir, dietitians, and nurses. Dr. Jad worked to establish this team to provide a post-operative management plan to follow weight loss surgeries, including dietary guidelines. Dr. Jad also provides education sessions to health care staff about post-operative management of bariatric surgery patients and soon sessions will be available for other CEHHC surgery patients.
“We are now able to keep our patients who desire laparoscopic surgery and keep them closer to home for care. Until last year, bariatric surgery was only available in the Central Zone, and through the collaboration with Dr. James Ellsmere, who is a pioneer in bariatric surgery in Central Zone, we were able to bring bariatric surgery to CEHHC,” said Dr. Jad.
Dr. Jad is also helping to reducing patient wait times for general surgery procedures by accepting patients from the Central Zone. Dr. Jad is proud of the patient outcomes he is seeing because of the initiative. Patients have a role in decision making for their procedure as they can decide between minimally invasive and open surgeries.
Dr. Aaron Smith, Executive Medical Director, Northern Zone, said timely access to both laparoscopic and bariatric surgical services is crucial in ensuring optimal patient outcomes.
“Laparoscopic techniques often result in shorter operation times and reduced recovery periods compared to open surgery. This allows patients to return to their daily activities and work more quickly, minimizing the potential for prolonged disability or time away from productive endeavors,” explained Dr. Smith. “Similarly, bariatric surgery, when performed in a timely manner, can prevent or mitigate the development of obesity-related complications, leading to improved long-term health outcomes for individuals struggling with obesity.”
Dr. Smith said access to laparoscopic and bariatric surgical services is integral to providing timely and high-quality surgical care due to the minimally invasive nature of these procedures, their effectiveness in treating specific conditions, and the potential for improved patient outcomes.
“By ensuring availability and accessibility to these services, Nova Scotia Health can enhance the overall quality of surgical care, alleviate the burden of chronic diseases, and improve the well-being of patients,” he said.
Dr. Jad is closely collaborating with physicians in the Central Zone to bring new surgical techniques to CEHHC. Many of the physicians he is now collaborating with were his mentors during residency training. Recently, Dr. C. Marius Hoogerboord, an expert in MIS surgeries and general surgeon at Nova Scotia Health, visited CEHHC to assist Dr. Jad with some complex cases using an advanced surgical technique.
“This collaboration is a key part of continuing to advance this initiative and utilizing the talents of physicians from other facilities,” said Dr. Jad.
This initiative supports Action for Health Care, Nova Scotia’s roadmap for a health system where Nova Scotians can access world-class healthcare in a timely manner. Thank you, Dr. Jad, for your commitment to better health and better health care for Nova Scotians.