Ottawa Hospital begins ‘gradual’ ramp up of non-urgent surgeries

OTTAWA — Ottawa hospitals have received the green light to begin the gradual ramp up of non-urgent surgeries and procedures to clear the backlog of 19,000 patients.

At the Ottawa Hospital, officials warn the availability of beds and skilled staff are the “biggest factors” in how quickly procedures can begin and the surgical backlogs are addressed.

“This is really good news, this announcement that we can resume non-urgent surgeries. We have many, many patients across the region have been waiting to access care,” said Dr. Virginia Roth, Chief of Staff at the Ottawa Hospital.

“We will be implementing a very gradual ramp-up because we are limited right now by staff and beds. We expect we will start first with day surgeries, where patients won’t need to be admitted after their surgery.”

Ontario health officials have lifted the provincewide pause on non-urgent surgeries, allowing hospitals to gradually resume the procedures if they have the capacity. A directive to cancel non-urgent surgeries was issued on April 20 as hospitals struggled to keep up with COVID-19 patients.

Roth says there are currently 10,000 patients waiting for a procedure at the Ottawa Hospital.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we’ve been looking at the patients who need care the earliest and getting them in the most quickly, so that will be across all specialities,” said Roth during an interview on CTV News at Five with Matt Skube.

“We have a rating system by which we make sure those that need surgery earlier get it sooner.”

The Ottawa Hospital told CTV News Ottawa in a statement on Wednesday that all hospitals are working together to maximize beds, staffing and surgical suites.

“A regional patient care strategy means that some patients may receive care at a different hospital that initially anticipated,” said the hospital. “Rest assured, regardless of where your care takes place in the region, patient safety is a top priority.”

Roth admit it’s too early to say how long it will take to clear the backlog of patients waiting for procedures.

“It’s too early to tell right now. I think it really depends on what happens with the pandemic. We need to continue to see our hospitalized cases of COVID drop,” said Roth.

“Many of our surgical staff are still helping out in ICU and other areas of the hospitals where we need them, so depending on what happens with the number of COVID admissions will determine how quickly we can get them back to their home area.”

Dr. Roth told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron” it will take “many months” to clear the surgical backlog. 

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