‘I’m feeling frustrated, scared’: Some Island surgeries postponed amid rising health care pressures

'I'm feeling frustrated, scared': Some Island surgeries postponed amid rising health care pressures

With COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. hitting all-time highs this week, the impact is now being felt by patients on Vancouver Island as some non-urgent surgeries are cancelled.

“We recently reported that some postponements had occurred in Island Health to support staffing and capacity there,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

From April 19-25, Dix says 12 surgeries were cancelled in Island Health. There have been more cancelled this week, although Dix said information on how many won’t be available until next Thursday.

Elaine Trappe was supposed to be on the operating table at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria Friday morning. She received a call Tuesday morning informing her it was being postponed.

“Angry, confused, hurt, surprised? My surgery is fairly urgent, they’re rebuilding two arteries that feed all of my abdominal organs,” Trappe said.

She had waited four years for the surgery and had undergone several pre-op appointments, quarantine, and was even on steroids in preparation for Friday’s surgery. She says she was never given a clear answer about why exactly it was being cancelled or when it will be rescheduled.

“I would have to be in ICU for up to three days so potentially maybe there’s some bed issues there but nothing concrete was ever said about why I’m in this position,” she said.

Dix says the surgery delays here are due to general pressures on the system and staff, not necessarily because of COVID-19. And he says non-urgent surgeries where patients can be sent home same-day are continuing.

“Island Health’s situation has nothing to do with the COVID-19 situation or transfers from other health authorities,” he said.

But there’s no question rising hospitalizations and ICU admissions for COVID patients across the province remain a real concern, even as vaccinations pick up.

“Most of the people in hospital right now are people who have not been immunized or are within the period of time before their immune system was stimulated by the vaccine,” said B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

READ MORE: B.C. confirms another 874 new COVID-19 cases, one death

But starting next week, B.C. should be able to immunize people twice as fast with twice as many doses arriving. Henry says all first responders and school staff will now receive a shot by mid-May and all eligible adults in the province as early as mid-June.

“It would be nice if there was a little bit more transparency from everyone involved so I knew more what to expect,” said Trappe.

For her, there’s nothing left to do but wait and hope for answers.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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