Over half the surgeries in BC that were postponed amid pandemic are now completed

Jul 21 2020, 9:35 pm

In what he called “encouraging progress” BC Health Minister Adrian Dix provided an update on Tuesday, regarding into the situation around the rescheduling of surgeries in the province amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The update comes after the province released its plan back in May to resume elective surgeries after postponing them all in March, in an effort to ensure hospitals had the capacity to address COVID-19 patient needs, and follows weekly updates that have been provided by the province since.

“We said we would provide written monthly reports on progress starting in July,” said Dix on Wednesday. “Our first report covers the period May 18 to June 25. Our commitment was to provide surgeries to patients in the safest way possible, and in the early days of our renewal, our efforts were especially careful and methodical.”

As surgical renewal proceeded, “we achieved a dramatic increase in surgeries provided to patients,” he said.

This first report “reflects the extraordinary work happening in our public health-care system. We had set our expectation that our health system would be back to full surgical capacity by the middle of June. We are there. Our commitment in the initial phase is to focus on urgent surgeries: patients whose surgeries must occur in less than four weeks; patients who had their surgery postponed as a result of COVID-19; and, patients who have waited more than twice their targeted wait time. We are fulfilling this commitment.”

Dix said the report also shows the province’s first steps to increase capacity.

This, he said, includes “modifying shift scheduling and vacation planning to align with our need for more surgical capacity this summer. We have maximized our use of contracted private surgical centres. And we have started to increase the essential health-care staff required to meet our commitment to patients in need of surgery. This progress is encouraging. It is hard work and it has just begun.”

The report itself noted that since BC began rescheduling elective surgeries:

  • Over 62,700 patients have been contacted to see if they are ready to reschedule their surgery;
  • As of June 25, health authorities report that 52% of patients who were called and had their surgery postponed have had their surgery completed;
  • Health authorities were able to ramp up to 97% of last year’s operating room (OR) hours by June 25;
  • As of July 4, with the exception of Northern Health, all health authorities are now operating at or above last year’s OR hours. A mechanical issue with the air exchange at UHNBC has resulted in one of the operating rooms being closed until the issue can be resolved;
  • From May 18 to June 25, 33,723 surgeries were completed, representing 91% of last year’s volume over the same timeframe. Since June 15, 100% or more of 2019 volumes were completed each week.

The full report is available online.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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