Ontario plan to ramp down elective surgeries expected to have minimal impact on Nunavut

Procedures in province’s hospitals down 30 per cent from usual capacity

No Ottawa-based surgeries for Nunavummiut have been cancelled following the province’s recent directive to ramp down elective surgeries. Iqaluit’s Qikiqtani General Hospital, pictured, is currently offering emergency services. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

Ontario’s move to scale back non-urgent surgeries could have an impact on patients in Nunavut’s Baffin region, but the territorial government says it hasn’t just yet.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health issued a directive last week asking health service providers across the province to reduce elective surgeries and other non-emergency services, in order to maintain capacity in Ontario’s hospitals as they process thousands of daily new cases of COVID-19 as part of a third wave of the virus.

“With the rising cases of COVID-19 in our community, Ottawa-area adult hospitals are taking further action to preserve critical care and human resource capacity,” said an April 9 statement issued by Ottawa-area hospitals.

“In-line with the directive from Ontario Health, adult hospitals in the Ottawa area are taking a planned approach to postpone some non-urgent surgeries and services.”

Ontario Health has indicated to the Government of Nunavut that surgery and endoscopy procedures have been decreased by about 30 per cent from the province’s usual capacity.

But at this time, no surgeries for Nunavummiut have been cancelled, the Nunavut’s Department of Health said on Wednesday.

“These directives affect routine or elective surgery only. Emergency services will continue to be provided,” said Dr. Francois de Wet, Territorial Chief of Staff, in a Wednesday email to Nunatsiaq News.

“As there is a surgical service in Iqaluit, the impact should be minimal for general surgery.”

De Wet said the department will notify patients as soon as any they have information about cancelled or rescheduled procedures.

Medical travellers with surgery in Ottawa are booked for procedures that typically cannot be done in Iqaluit.

Baffin-based patients will often be booked into Ottawa hospitals for surgeries like knee or hip replacements, certain cancer-related surgeries, plastic surgery, transplants and kidney and liver surgeries.

Iqaluit’s Qikiqtani General Hospital provides a full general surgery service, including gallbladder, appendicitis and bowel surgery, although some higher-risk patients are sent to Ottawa.

The hospital is only open for emergency services as of Thursday, the territorial government announced today, following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Iqaluit.

Health officials have not indicated how that might impact health travel.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Adult patients are being transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) which I believe is a first.
    .
    I was at the Queensway Carleton Hospital yesterday for a procedures. I would have expected a more thorough screening but then our federal government has not made the effort to get rapid test kits to essential services.
    .
    All staff I encountered were professional, and actually coping very very well under the harsh circumstances. There are levels of protection at every step from entry, to registration, to prep, to the procedure, to recovery.
    .
    But you can tell that staff are tired. Very tired of our government’s flawed approach and handling of this over a year long crisis.
    .
    Canada, and the provinces have done much right, but idiots like Doug Ford are not the type of leaders we need at times like this. He is in over his head. He really should step aside and let someone, or a group of someones LEAD!
    .
    Hopefully Ford’s incompetence will not adversely affect my friends in Nunavut.

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