Last week, the Government of Ontario announced hospitals may begin slowly “opening up” for scheduled surgeries and procedures that were paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that resuming services would depend on meeting certain conditions as outlined in the Province’s framework.
Regionally, the work is being carefully weighed against the overriding need to ensure hospitals can maintain capacity in the event of any surge in COVID-19 patients.
Hospital leaders and clinicians want to ensure patient and staff safety and the priority sequencing of services. Plans are being regionally developed and will begin by addressing patients with the highest acuity needs.
Along with community healthcare partners, South West Region hospitals are working together to ensure the following: A sustained commitment to support long-term-care; Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment; Enough supplies of drugs for surgeries; The ability to reduce activity quickly should there be a re-emergence of multiple cases of COVID-19 positive patients; The evaluation and use of different approaches to care (i.e. virtual care and clinical innovations); And the potential for having patients and their care team travel for care.
Hospital leaders understand the significant impact these changes have on patients and families and are committed to doing everything they can to resume care in the safest and most thoughtful way.
A timeline for the reintroduction of services has yet to be determined, however resuming postponed care will take time and will occur slowly over many weeks and months.
Patients will receive notice directly from their hospital or physician as services resume.
“We understand the significant impacts this has on our patients and their families and we acknowledge the anxiety and uncertainty associated with these delays,” said Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, CEO, St. Joseph’s Health Care London and Hospital Lead, South West Region in a Monday media release. “Hospitals are working quickly and collaboratively to develop a nimble and responsive plan to reintroduce services and ensure the safety of our patients, residents, families, physicians and staff across the South West.”
On March 19, following the release of a memorandum from the Ministry of Health and then Directive No. 2 by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, hospitals began to significantly decrease scheduled surgical and procedural work out of concern that the health care system could be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have been delivering urgent and emergent care, with clinicians constantly evaluating the care needs of people who are waiting and moving individuals into the urgent and emergent categories as needed.