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Northern Health resuming elective surgeries with pre-admission changes

Health authority will begin telephone pre-admission screenings
The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) in Prince George. (via Hanna Petersen)

Northern Health is now resuming elective surgeries that were postponed due to COVID-19.

However, the process will see a few changes to keep patients, medical staff and support staff safe as the regional health authority is now implementing plans for telephone pre-admission screening of surgical patients.

This new model is set to reduce the need for patients to come to the hospital for in-person visits before their surgeries and will include assessments and consultations over the phone.

While the pandemic continues to evolve, Northern Health says its actively working to safely resume elective surgeries and minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to ensure capacity in hospitals and support patients affected by the virus.

Starting today (May 12), Northern Health says it'll contact patients to book procedures and/or to confirm if they are willing and able to move forward with surgery.

It adds it recognizes that some individuals may wish to continue to postpone their surgery at this time as well.

Patients who require urgent, emergent and oncology-related surgeries will continue to be prioritized.

To minimize transmission of COVID-19 for patients, staff and medical staff, a number of measures ware being implemented:

  • When possible, patients will be assessed through a telephone call prior to surgery
  • Consistent screening tools and risk assessment guidelines will be used
  • Patients will be assessed 24-72 hours prior to surgery and arrival the day of surgery
  • Surgeries will be scheduled with time to accommodate additional cleaning and infection control measures.
  • Patients will be rescheduled based on priority determined by their surgeon.

To provide surgeries to patients as quickly as possible, Northern Health will be back to full surgical capacity as soon as it can and, where possible, will expand over the coming months.

The health authority says this plan is dependent on several factors such as an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, full commitment of all partners, and monitoring of any possible fall/winter resurgence of COVID-19.