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
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.