Surgery Services reintroduction notices

Last Updated @ 4:30 p.m. on October 22, 2020

Effective May 25, NSHA began reintroducing and/or increasing programs and sevices that were slowed or suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including surgeries. Emergency, urgent and time sensitive cancer surgeries had continued, however the number of surgeries performed was only about a third of the number of cases completed during the same time frame last year.

Clinical teams including surgeons, anesthesiologists and other perioperative program leaders and staff have been working to reintroduce services. Our initial focus was on certain day surgeries that did not increase the number of inpatients in our hospitals, while also focusing on rescheduling those patients who had their surgery postponed due to COVID-19. Surgeries requiring short hospital stays, including same day admissions, and other longer stay surgeries will be gradually added as beds are available.

As of October 19, 2020:

  • 72 per cent of the patients who had their scheduled surgeries postponed had their surgery completed and 3 per cent of those postponed had been given a new surgery date.

For September 28 to October 4, 2020:

  • 1492 surgeries (221 per cent increase from the week before service reintroduction began) 
  • Surgical volumes were at 93 per cent of volume from same week in 2019.

Data from previous reporting periods:

  • May 18-24: 465 surgeries (prior to service reintroduction)
  • May 25-31: 732 surgeries (59 per cent increase from previous week)
  • June 15-21: 1029 surgeries (121 per cent increase from the week before service reintroduction began).
  • July 27-August 2: 860 surgeries (85 per cent increase from the week before service reintroduction began).
  • August 24-30: 1205 surgeries (159 per cent increase from the week before service reintroduction began).

View full Service Reintroduction update - October 23, 2020

The extent to which we are able to increase surgeries may vary by site based on the resources available at various locations, including whether surgical staff had returned from COVID-19 redeployment assignments.

Patients whose health status has worsened or those who have questions or concerns should speak with their primary health care provider/care team.

We want to assure patients that we are taking ongoing precautions to prevent the spread of COVID, including:

  • Screening all patients for COVID risk-factors prior to surgery
  • Having patients swabbed for COVID-19 where it is determined to be warranted
  • Taking steps to ensure social distancing can be achieved within our clinics, registration areas, waiting rooms and recovery rooms
  • Following recommendations related to the use of personal protective equipment for patients and providers.

While we were able to reduce surgical services over a matter of weeks, the reintroduction of impacted services is going to take more time and it will take considerable time to clear the backlog of surgical cases impacted by COVID-19.

What can patients expect? 

  • Patients will be contacted directly by their surgeon or surgical booking staff to let them know when their surgery will be rescheduled/scheduled.
  • At this time we are only booking a couple weeks out, so it will take some time for patients to be contacted.
  • When patients are contacted they will be provided with information and instructions related to their surgery. This will include details related to services that may need to be accessed before their surgery. This could include x-rays, blood work and pre-operative/pre-anesthesia clinics. Some services may be offered virtually or by phone.
  • Patients who were previously tested or who attended pre-operative/pre-anesthesia clinics before their surgery was postponed may have to repeat these services depending on how much time has passed.  Your physician’s office will provide you direction with what is recommended.  This may vary by the type of surgery.
  • To avoid multiple trips to the hospital and allow us to increase surgeries as quickly as possible, pre-operative care and testing will be completed virtually/by telephone, or the day of surgery, as much as possible. 
  • Patients can expect to be asked what kinds of support they have in place when they return home, including whether they live alone, have loved-ones that can safely offer support, or if they will require in-home support or nursing care.  If support is needed our teams will help connect patients with Continuing Care to arrange for these needs to be met.
  • All patients can expect to be asked a set of screening questions to assess their possible risk of COVID-19, including:
    • Whether they are experiencing any known symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, cough or headache
    • If they have travelled or been in contact with someone who has travelled
    • If they have visited a location with known exposure risk or
    • If they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive.
  • Based on the type of procedure they are having and their response to screening questions, some patients may need to be swabbed for COVID-19. In some cases patients may be asked to be tested at a testing location in their community ahead of their surgery. Others may be swabbed at their pre-operative/pre-anesthesia clinics or the day of their surgery.
  • Patients can expect to see measures in place to ensure appropriate social distancing within our clinics, waiting rooms, registration areas and recovery rooms.
  • Visitation restrictions, aimed at preventing the spread of illness, remain in place.
  • The safety of our patients and staff continue to be a priority. Precautions are in place and patients should feel safe coming to our facilities to receive their surgery.