Bluewater Health set to resume surgeries paused by pandemic

Bluewater Health April 25, 2019 Photo by Melanie Irwin

Bluewater Health is set to resume non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries.

The province announced Wednesday that it has lifted a directive restricting elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures.

In a media release, the hospital said it will begin rescheduling surgeries and procedures, that are not expected to require inpatient resources, over the next coming days.  Patients will be notified of opportunities to reschedule surgeries and other appointments.

VP of Operations Samer Abou-Sweid said the province’s announcement was welcomed news.

“We’ve been waiting for it because we’ve being seeing over the last couple of days that capacity is easing off a little bit — our ICU capacity is going back to normal levels prior to when we started to accept transfers,” said Abou-Sweid.  “We are actively going through the process of slowly ramping up and getting in touch with patients who we will be starting to accommodate as early as next week.”

Non-urgent surgeries were paused last month when the province’s health system was strained by a surge in hospitalizations of COVID patients, in particular in its ICUs.

Patients were transferred to hospitals with ICU capacity, and Bluewater Health received 21 patients from London and the Greater Toronto Area.

Abou-Sweid said the burden of COVID at GTA hospitals has decreased.

“As of the end of last week, we received notice that we are no longer required to accept patients from the GTA, which was welcomed news, and we are not expecting any transfers in the near future.”

Abou-Sweid said Bluewater Health experienced some capacity issues because of the transfers.

“So we actually had to redeploy staff from our O.R. and from our recovery department and from day surgery, as well as some staff from rehab and medicine, we had to redeploy them to other areas of the hospital to try and care for those additional patients.  We did open up a number of ICU beds to make care available.”

The hospital said the surge has now slowed and the capacity pressures have improved.