Windsor Regional Hospital, Erie Shores HealthCare pausing non-urgent services

Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette campus. Blackburn News file photo.

Two hospitals in Windsor-Essex have released plans to “ramp down” non-urgent services, elective surgeries, and diagnostic scans this week.

Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) and Erie Shores HealthCare (ESHC) in Leamington issued a release Wednesday morning saying that most of the temporary closures and postponements they are planning will be effective 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 19.

“Well, we do a total of 600 to 700 surgeries a week over 17 operating rooms,” said Windsor Regional Hospital Chief of Staff, Dr. Wassim Saad. “Those 17 operating rooms are going to be pared down to six operating rooms, and as a result of that, that will free up about 70 beds.”

Any patients who are affected by the changes will be contacted in advance of their scheduled appointments.

“We have a list, obviously, of everybody who’s coming in for surgery, endoscopic procedures, out-patient clinics, so if you have an appointment at the hospital within the next several weeks, you’ll be called,” said Saad.

“We know these measures will be difficult and challenging for our patients, their families and our clinical teams,” said WRH President and CEO David Musyj. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we implement these difficult and complex changes.”

The move follows an order from the provincial government, which is aimed at preserving capacity in hospitals as cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in Ontario.

“We will continue to assess and make changes based on the evolution of the province’s pandemic response plans,” said Dr. Wassim Saad, WRH chief of staff. “We are doing our best to work in tandem with our hospital partners to reduce the potential exposure of our employees and professional staff to the COVID-19 virus, while also conserving our hospital resources for the most urgent needs.”

Dr. Ross Moncur, ESHC Chief of Staff echoed that statement, adding “physicians are making difficult decisions on what services can be delayed” and that “these decisions are being made with safety as a first priority.”

“We don’t know when the peak or the worst is going to hit. Some people think it’s going to be between seven and 14 days, some people are expecting longer than that,” he said. “This is not, unfortunately, not going to be a two or three-week problem. This is several weeks to a few months problem.”