Northern Health announced Tuesday, May 12, that they are resuming elective surgeries that were postponed, as the health agency was taking steps to ensure capacity in hospitals to deal with COVID-19 patients.
“NH is implementing plans for telephone pre-admission screening of surgical patients, where available. This new model of care will reduce the need for patients to come to the hospital for in-person visits before their surgeries, and will include telephone assessments, and consultations,” the agency stated.
From May 12 onwards, Northern Health will be contacting patients to book procedures and/or to confirm if they are willing and able to move forward with surgery. The health agency said they recognize that some individuals may wish to postpone their surgery at this time.
Meanwhile, priority will be given to patients who need “urgent, emergent and oncology-related surgeries.” And to minimize transmission of the virus to patients, staff and medical staff, there will be a number of measures implemented as part of the surgical process.
Those measures are:
- When possible, patients will be assessed through a telephone call prior to surgery.
- Consistent screening tools and risk assessment guidelines will be used.
- Patients will be assessed 24-72 hours prior to surgery and arrival the day of surgery.
- Surgeries will be rescheduled with time to accommodate additional cleaning and infection control measures.
- Patients will be rescheduled based on priority determined by their surgeon.
The northern health agency is planning on expanding surgical capacity over the coming months. “This plan is dependent on several factors such as adequate supply of personal protective equipment, full commitment of all partners, and monitoring of any possible fall/winter resurgency of COVID-19.”
As of May 12 there are 57 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health region, with two hospitalizations, one in intensive care and zero confirmed deaths.