The province’s hospitals, with exception of those in Northern Ontario, have been directed by Ontario Health to ramp down all non-emergency, scheduled surgeries, procedures and other non-urgent activities, effective Monday April 12th .
The measure comes as COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations continue to increase at an alarming rate, putting extreme pressure on hospitals. The order is designed to preserve critical care bed capacity and ensure hospitals have enough staff to safely care for patients, particularly those requiring intensive care.
RVH will continue to perform emergency and urgent surgeries and procedures, such as trauma, cancer and vascular procedures however, to comply with the order:
- All non-urgent surgical and endoscopic procedures will be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date.
- Virtual visits will continue to be offered for many exams and assessments, including cardiac, mental health and cancer.
Patients will be notified directly if this ramp down impacts their surgery, procedure or clinic appointment. Only those patients whose appointments are cancelled will be notified. If you do not receive a call, your surgery/appointment will proceed and closer to the date, you will receive instructions to prepare and what to do upon arrival.
This is the second ramp down for Ontario hospitals; they were first directed to pause non-emergency surgeries and procedures in March of 2020. In June RVH began ramping up surgeries and procedures and has worked hard to ease the surgical backlog sustaining access to surgical procedures with little disruptions.
“We recognize how difficult and frustrating this second ramp-down is for patients, particularly those whose procedures were already delayed due to the pandemic,” says Janice Skot, RVH President and CEO. “However, hospitals are confronted with extraordinary capacity challenges of a magnitude we never imagined. We must do everything possible to ensure we have the beds available, particularly in intensive care, to safely look after the patients who need our help.”
As they did during the first ramp down, physicians will keep a close eye on patients whose procedures have been cancelled to ensure their non-urgent condition doesn’t progress and become urgent. RVH is well-prepared for this third wave of the pandemic. It has enacted its critical care capacity plan which will enable the health centre to open 21 additional critical care beds throughout the hospital. It also continues to operate its Regional Pandemic Response Unit, a 70-bed field hospital located in RVH’s parking lot, 27 transitional care beds at the IOOF Seniors Home and 29 additional beds throughout the health centre, helping to reduce hallway medicine.