Patient prepared for operation at Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, 2016. The province is expanding private contracted surgeries to catch up on cancelled procedures due to COVID-19. (The Canadian Press)

COVID-19: B.C. begins calling back scheduled surgery patients

30,000 procedures cancelled, many for cancer, heart treatment

The B.C. health ministry has started contacting thousands of scheduled surgery patients whose procedures have been delayed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to begin a catch-up program expected to extend into the next two years.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced May 7 that with continued low hospital demand to admit COVID-19-infected patients, B.C.’s regional health authorities are reaching out to surgery candidates over the next week to see if they are willing to proceed with their delayed surgery under new protocols to screen for novel coronavirus infection.

In addition to 30,000 cancelled and postponed procedures, the health ministry estimates that without COVID-19 precautions that halted all but urgent surgeries, there would have been another 24,000 patients added to wait lists since pandemic measures were implemented March 17. Surgeons stopped meeting with most patients and referring them since that time.

Premier John Horgan said many patients will be apprehensive about returning to the health care system, despite living in pain. “Today we start relieving that pain,” Horgan said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C.’s reduction in community cases means hospitals and surgical centres can change a protocol that assumed everyone coming in for surgery may be infected. She said surgical patients will be screened for symptoms twice, the second time just before they come in for the procedure.

“Now that we have flattened our curve here in B.C., we need to take a different approach to this,” Henry said. “We can now safely assume that most patients do not have COVID-19.”

Surgical capacity is to be ramped up to pre-pandemic levels over four weeks, starting May 18 when scheduled surgeries are to resume, and private contracted facilities will be used to maximum capacity by the end of May. Additional screening for COVID-19 will be implemented, but with reduced positive tests in recent weeks, officials say the vast majority of scheduled surgery patients will not require additional infection measures in hospital.

RELATED: B.C. prepares to restart retail, medical services in May

RELATED: B.C. residents can increase their ‘pandemic bubbles’

Dix estimates that the additional capacity, including operating room training of nurses and added surgeons and anestheologists, will cost an additional $250 million in the first year. Catching up is expected to take up to two years, including patients with cancer and heart conditions, with surgical facilities extending hours and into weekends as surgical teams are added.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Missing Chilliwack woman last seen on Wednesday

Friends and family concerned for Joy-Lynn Leon, 42, who was last seen Sept. 23 on Mary Street

VIDEO: Mounties looking to catch Chilliwack bike-riding teen groper

Man caught on video slapping the backside of girl near CSS riding a bicycle

Abbotsford has a COVID-19 rate 10 times higher than Chilliwack

Abbotsford has been much harder hit by COVID-19 than its neighbour to the east

Chilliwack illusionist Chris Funk brings live magic, music to Cultural Centre

‘You’ll see some creations that have made appearances on some of the largest television shows in the world’

Brokerage team brings in $9,510 to help feed hungry children in Chilliwack

RBC Dominion Securities raise thousands of dollars for Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Lumber hitting record high prices due to low supply and high demand

B.C.’s forest industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with the COVID-19 building boom

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

B.C. VOTES 2020: Speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

Most Read