With thousands of patients still waiting, timeline shows B.C.'s plan to resume non-urgent scheduled surgeries
VANCOUVER -- The provincial government has released a tentative timeline for when non-urgent scheduled surgeries will resume in British Columbia.
These surgeries will resume over a three-week period, which began this week and continues through the week of June 7.
The timelines break down what will happen in Lower Mainland hospitals in both the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said some of these operating rooms were repurposed at the height of the third wave, used to increase the number of intensive care beds available.
In other cases, staff involved in non-urgent scheduled surgeries were moved to other departments to help with the fight against COVID-19. But things will now be getting back to normal at the nine hospitals.
Timetables provided by the province and embedded below show details including that this week, the Lions Gate Hospital increased its capacity by two operating rooms, and St. Paul's Hospital reopened one room Monday, with two more to open Thursday and Friday.
Next week, the Burnaby Hospital will be back to its normal operation capacity, as will Royal Columbian, as it opens its seven main operating rooms and two for open-heart procedures.
In the final week, examples of updates including the Abbotsford Regional Hospital having all of its seven operating rooms running, and all 20 available at the Vancouver General. See more in the embedded graphics below.
Non-urgent surgeries have been suspended more than once in B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic, most recently in a period between April 19 and May 23, when 2,153 scheduled surgeries were postponed.
But Dix said those patients remain a priority.
"I know that this causes tremendous anxiety. We know that every one of those surgeries is important and we're tracking each one of them," he said.
In data presented at a news conference Thursday, Dix said 97 per cent of surgeries postponed during the second wave of COVID-19 have been completed, but the waitlist as of the end of this March was close to 82,000.
Dix said the province will ensure patients needing surgery the most will get their appointments first, but that others will still get their procedures.
This list includes patients in need of urgent surgery, but also those who've had their operations postponed, including those who've had to wait more than twice the recommended time.
He said an additional 292 health-care providers have been hired in the last year to support the province's surgical renewal strategy and to keep up with new demands.
Dix spoke at a news conference during which it was announced that the interval between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be cut in half for most people.
Daily case numbers were also announced, as B.C. marked another vaccination milestone, this time of three-million doses, that brought the rolling weekly average down to 330 a day.
"All those involved in delivering surgeries – the health-care workers, those who book the surgeries, our health sciences professionals, our nurses, our doctors, all of them – are the authors of these achievements," Dix said.
"But the co-authors of these accomplishments are each of us, every one of us, for continuing to use our COVID skills and continuing to follow public health guidance and orders to stop the spread. We can't let cases surge again, and impact our hospitals and surgeries."
The health minister urged everyone who has not yet registered to get one of the three vaccines available in the province to do so, and to remember what actions have been behind the province's progress, then keep doing it all.