Bluewater Health making progress clearing pandemic-related procedure backlog

Bluewater Health President and CEO Mike Lapaine (Photo courtesy of Bluewater Health)

The head of Bluewater Health is stressing the importance of maintaining favourable COVID-19 numbers in Sarnia-Lambton.

President and CEO Mike Lapaine said many hospital restrictions remain in place which he understands is difficult for families wanting to visit loved ones.

“It’s a fine balance, we know we don’t always get it right, but we need the public to understand we have to have some level of restriction on visitation just because we need to maintain the great numbers we’ve seen in Lambton County so we can ensure that we can continue to do all those elective procedures we were forced to cancel in the spring,” Lapaine said. “We do not want to get to a point where we have to roll back on many of our elective procedures again.”

Lapaine told Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM), Wednesday morning they’re making progress clearing the backlog of elective procedures, particularly joint replacement surgeries.

“We do a lot of hip, knee and shoulder replacements here. So we have been working really hard focusing on those areas to try to catch those up, and we’re actually doing much more than we would have a year ago in the month of September or October. Our goal is to be completely caught up, to be where we were pre-pandemic by the end of March and with the current trajectory it looks like we could actually achieve that goal ahead of time,” he said.

Lapaine said staff have been taxed doing additional surgeries, in some cases working overtime, to clear pandemic-related backlogs. He said many units are running at nearly 100 per cent, and with all the COVID restrictions, it’s very difficult for staff.

The special COVID unit at the Sarnia hospital has been closed since May. There are no positive patients currently, and as of last week, the percentage of occupied intensive care beds was at 43 per cent.

Lapaine said Sarnia-Lambton and southwestern Ontario is not seeing the increase in cases the GTA is, and they’re hopeful “this is as bad as the second wave gets for us.”

-With files from Sue Storr