Hundreds of Island surgeries cancelled after spike in COVID admissions

Hundreds of Island surgeries cancelled after spike in COVID admissions

Island Health has cancelled hundreds of non-urgent surgeries as a result of the increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

Island Health said there are 91 patients admitted to hospital due to COVID, though not all are in the infectious period.

In the daily COVID update, the BCCDC dashboard said in Island Health there are 56 people hospitalized in Island Health who are currently infectious, seven of whom are in critical care.

Dr. Elin Bjarnason, vice-president of South Island operations with Island Health said the admissions are similar to the highest number of patients admitted last year.

“That is equal, relatively, to our highest point during the Delta wave of COVID positive patients in hospital,” Bjarnason said.

At Royal Jubilee Hospital, 24 employees called in sick Thursday morning, 116 for all of Island Health.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 2,150 new cases of COVID-19, 354 in Island Health

Bjarnason said ongoing staff shortages, combined with a spike in admissions for COVID patients over Christmas, led to the cancellation of hundreds of elective surgeries.

“I made the decision to move, during our busiest time of the year, to pro-actively make the decision to reduce our ambulatory access, and our surgery access for a three to four week period of time,” Bjarnason said.

During the COVID-19 briefing on Jan. 18, Health Minister Adrian Dix said during the week of Jan. 9 to 15, there were 791 surgeries cancelled in B.C., almost half, 355, within Island Health.

“It remains our priority to sustain essential health care services throughout every region of the province while we work together to overcome COVID-19,” Dix said.

Staff who would be normally working in the operating room are deployed to other areas of the hospital experiencing shortages due to illness.

According to Bjarnason, the cancelled surgeries should be rescheduled within the next month.

“We’re confident that in February as we come out of this that we are going to emerge stronger in our operating rooms, and our in-patient units,” Bjarnason said.

Anyone requiring emergency or urgent surgery is still receiving care.

Operating room access should be restored by Jan. 31 at all Island Health sites.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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