Surgeries at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance are now being performed at 90 per cent of the volume during the last year before the start of the pandemic, hospital officials have said.
Hospitals across Ontario have had to suspend non-urgent and elective procedures at various points throughout the pandemic, including earlier this year. Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the local hospital group, said both staff and the community should be proud of getting closer to a normal level.
“I think one of the things we need to note is that this performance is actually quite remarkable, considering not only the impact of the pandemic on the surgical program, in terms of the needing to slow down the services,” she said during a Monday call with reporters.
“We also have to recognize that the staff in the surgical program, in the OR (operating room) in particular, were asked to go and be redeployed to other areas of the hospital and then now have returned, really, to their home department.”
The results of ramping back surgeries have varied across different types of surgeries. Cancer surgeries and diagnostic imaging are now exceeding the levels of the 2019-20 fiscal year and endoscopy procedures are almost equal to the “most recent normal year of operations,” Marshall said.
“The one area that I would say continues to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic has been orthopedics,” Marshall said. “We have not received the 90 per cent rate for that group, but it continues to be an area of focus for us as we go forward with our renewal.”
The exact rate for orthopedic procedures was not available at publication time.
Caen Suni, vice president of clinical programs and operations, said the Health Alliance is looking forward to further announcements from the provincial government to help with surgical renewal.
“In terms of future information, hospitals across Ontario are waiting for approval to hit a 100 per cent-plus (rate), in terms of the renewal, and that’s something we’re expecting from Ontario Health,” he said.
Marshall has previously said it takes about a year to make up for one month of shutting down non-urgent procedures.