Patient prepared for operation at Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, 2016. The B.C. health ministry has increased its contracted surgeries with private clinics to help catch up on 30,000 cancelled surgeries due to COVID-19. (The Canadian Press)

Patient prepared for operation at Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, 2016. The B.C. health ministry has increased its contracted surgeries with private clinics to help catch up on 30,000 cancelled surgeries due to COVID-19. (The Canadian Press)

COVID-19: B.C. ‘almost back to normal’ on scheduled surgeries

Additional summer operating hours mean more procedures

Surgical procedures in B.C. hospitals are still taking slightly longer due to COVID-19 precautions, but as of July there were still more being done than the same time last year.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix released his second update on the surgery recovery program he launched this spring, showing that from June 26 to July 23, 904 more surgical procedures were completed than the same period in 2019.

The increase is a result of running operating rooms on weekends, hiring more anesthesiologists and training or hiring extra nurses and technologists. Functioning operating room hours have increased by six per cent, and hip and knee surgeries have increased by four per cent over last year.

Extra pandemic procedures for operating rooms meant they were taking 26 per cent longer to treat when elective surgeries were resumed in June, but as of Sept. 1 the difference is minimal and “the time it takes to perform surgeries is almost back to normal,” Dix said in a statement.

Dix acknowledged that with 30,000 procedures cancelled, wait times remain long.

“We recognize that B.C.’s surgical renewal plan is a massive undertaking,” Dix said. “Fulfilling our commitment to patients is an all-in effort, and we are working together with everyone in the health care system to increase surgeries, add staff and operating room hours and get more patients the surgeries they need.”

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