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B.C. catching up on surgeries cancelled during first wave of pandemic

Last Updated Jan 7, 2021 at 2:11 am PST


The province is catching up on surgeries cancelled during the first wave of the pandemic

So far 90 per cent of the 111,000 cancelled last March have been done

By next year he says that means 24 per cent more surgeries annually than we had before the pandemic

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. is making big gains catching up with tens of thousands of surgeries cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province has cleared all but 10 per cent of the backlog in surgeries caused by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Dix says operating room hours were increased and more surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses were hired to tackle procedures cancelled to save beds for COVID patients.

He says the changes will also help meet the growing demand for surgery in the province.

Michael Marchbanks heading up the project says they opened unused surgeries, did procedures on weekends, reduced slowdown periods – including a 37 per cent reduction in summer slowdown. By next year Marchbanks says that means 24 per cent more surgeries annually than B.C. had before the pandemic.

“What this means for patients and their families is about 99,000 operating hours and more surgeries for those who need it,” he says.

Marchbanks says 8,000 people called to reschedule were removed from the waitlist because they no longer wanted the procedure or shouldn’t have been on the list.

There are still people waiting for surgeries, but the total is down six percent from when the pandemic began.

Surgery hopefuls still waiting on estimated dates

Some people, however, still don’t have estimated dates to look forward to.

Fernanda Fatio is still waiting to get a date for her third wrist surgery after her last one in January failed to fix her problem.

Then her surgeon moved to Ontario during the first week of public health restrictions in B.C. So she found another surgeon in July.

“He said the waiting time would be at least a year because of the quarantine, everything got cancelled, so all the waiting times got changed, everybody was pretty swamped with that,” she explains.

“I just keep waiting, I keep staying and my hand is too painful,” Fatio adds.

UBC student Aimee Calder was 17-years-old when she began to suffer from damage in her hip. Now, she’s 20-years-old and was just able to get her specialized hip surgery done in July 2020 from a private surgeon at Cambie Surgery Centre, because the pain was just becoming too much to wait for.

“We had that scheduled for the last week of March, so that obviously got cancelled. And that was finally rescheduled in July, so I got that finally six months ago today. I guess no one told the public [hospital] that I had the surgery, so they called me in September to see if I was still interested in it – they didn’t even have a date for it. So it would’ve ended up being two years or longer since my original call to my GP (General practitioners) about my problem.”

Fortunately, Calder is on the mend and able to exercise again.

“I was only on crutches for two weeks. So it was a really good recovery.”

And it only took a little over a week for Fatio to get new MRIs for her wrist during the holidays.

“I can say that things are speeding up and getting faster, but of course, we’re a little frustrated by that, but I don’t think there is much more we can do,” Fatio says.