Doctors and staff at Cowichan District Hospital are busy getting ready to resume elective surgeries next week.

Cowichan Valley Medical Health Officer Dr. Shannon Waters says there are a number of essential things to be done.

She says they need to establish “protocols as to how to reinstate surgeries in a new environment with pandemic and physical distancing measures in place.”

Dr. Waters says many conversations are taking place between Cowichan surgeons, operating room nurses, anesthetists, and hospital managers about how they “allow this to happen in the safest way possible” during a pandemic.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority says there will be enhanced screening and assessments of patients prior to surgery.

To limit in-person consultations, as many patients as possible will be assessed using a virtual pre-admission clinic.

Surgeries will be rescheduled based on the priority that the surgeon gives each case.

Island Health will be contacting patients who had their elective surgery cancelled.

The health authority also says it understands that some patients may want to continue postponing their surgery.

The resumption of elective surgery is part of phase two of BC’s plan to gradually lift restrictions on COVID-19 related province-wide restrictions.

It’s estimated that 30,000 elective surgeries were postponed across the province and about 4000 were on Vancouver Island.

As the Province of British Columbia moves forward with its Surgical Renewal Plan, Island Health will implement the following measures

  • When possible, patients will be assessed through a virtual pre-admission clinic by video conference prior to surgery.
  • Modified scheduling and workflows to maintain physical distancing.
  • Enhanced screening and assessment of patients prior to surgery.
  • Surgeries will be scheduled with time to accommodate additional cleaning and infection control measures.