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90% of surgeries postponed due to COVID-19 now complete, B.C. government says

Click to play video: 'B.C. catching up on postponed and cancelled surgeries' B.C. catching up on postponed and cancelled surgeries
B.C. catching up on postponed and cancelled surgeries – Jan 6, 2021

The substantial backlog of surgeries that had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C. has almost entirely been cleared.

The B.C. government announced on Wednesday that as of Nov. 22, 90 per cent of people whose non-elective surgeries had to be rescheduled during the first wave of the pandemic finally had them completed.

Click to play video: 'B.C. gov’t criticized for lack of LTC info, Dix provides surgical renewal plan' B.C. gov’t criticized for lack of LTC info, Dix provides surgical renewal plan
B.C. gov’t criticized for lack of LTC info, Dix provides surgical renewal plan – Jan 6, 2021

“The surgical renewal commitment to patients is a massive and necessary undertaking to address postponed surgeries and meet the growing demand for surgery within British Columbia,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

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“Our sixth-month report tells a remarkable story of achievement in the number of patients called, surgeries delivered, operating room hours extended, waitlists reduced, and staff hired and trained.”

Click to play video: 'Health Minister Adrian Dix updates on the backlog of cancelled B.C. surgeries' Health Minister Adrian Dix updates on the backlog of cancelled B.C. surgeries
Health Minister Adrian Dix updates on the backlog of cancelled B.C. surgeries – Jul 21, 2020

Back in March, not long after the coronavirus crisis was declared a pandemic, the province announced that it would postpone all non-urgent scheduled surgeries to free up hospital beds in the event of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Operations resumed in mid-May as cases began to decline and the economy started to reopen.

As of Nov. 22, health authorities had completed phone calls to reschedule all 111,584 patients who’d been on waitlists before mid-May, Dix said.

Read more: Premier Horgan suggests B.C. moved too quickly to postpone elective, scheduled surgeries

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Officials focused on urgent and long-awaited operations, completing 996 more urgent scheduled surgeries and 6,299 more surgeries for patients waiting longer than twice their target wait.

About 164,000 patients received their surgery from May 18 to Nov. 12, and about 8,000 hours of operating room time were added, compared to the same time last year, to help clear the backlog.

The Ministry of Health and health authorities hired additional staff including 33 surgeons, 32 anesthesiologists and 171 post-anesthetic recovery registered nurses.

The province avoided having to delay non-essential surgeries again as the second wave of COVID-19 took hold in the fall because of what they learned from the postponements in the spring, Dix said on Wednesday.

“These are significant achievements and our work will continue to build on this progress in the winter-to-spring period,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Staff at a Vancouver hospital create innovate strategies to deal with the surgery backlog' Staff at a Vancouver hospital create innovate strategies to deal with the surgery backlog
Staff at a Vancouver hospital create innovate strategies to deal with the surgery backlog – Jun 28, 2020

The total waitlist has been reduced by six per cent since March 31 and by 12 per cent since it peaked on May 28 at 100,297 backlogged operations.

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Catching up has come at a substantial cost, meanwhile, with the government allocating $187.5 million in the first budget year.

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