British Columbia

Surgery delays on horizon as B.C. COVID-19 cases spike

A North Vancouver man is expecting his nose surgery to be delayed for a third time in January, as COVID-19 cases skyrocket, and health officials warn of surgery postponements to manage hospital capacity.

North Vancouver man expecting 3rd delay to minor nose surgery scheduled in January

Health officials in B.C. expect about 3,000 surgeries to be cancelled per week as a result of the rising COVID-19 cases, starting Jan. 4. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Jonathon Adams snores — at least that's what his daughter tells him.

Adams's experience is perhaps less annoying, but more alarming: he suddenly wakes up gasping for air due to his sleep apnea.

He had prosthetics inserted into his nose in 2018 to open the airway, but they've slipped and it has been about a year since he was told another surgery would be required to fix the issue.

But with skyrocketing COVID-19 cases in B.C., the North Vancouver resident is expecting the surgery — scheduled Jan. 12 — to be postponed for a third time.

"They haven't let me know yet, but I would put any money on it that it's done," said Adams on Wednesday, as provincial officials announced a new high in daily COVID-19 cases: 1,528.

"If we're still at that case count at that time, I'd probably just cancel it anyways and move it out, just for my own peace of mind," he said.

Jonathon Adams is pictured with his son Ethan on Mount Seymour in September. Adams expects the surgery to adjust prosthetics in his nose to be delayed for a third time in early January, following an announcement this week from Health Minister Adrian Dix. (Jonathon Adams)

On Tuesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said surgeries would be rescheduled starting Jan. 4, in order to manage hospital capacity.

While new COVID-19 cases are rising dramatically as a result of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, hospitalizations have not yet followed suit. In fact, the weekly average is down considerably from its last peak in October.


However, hospitalizations tend to lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, meaning it may take another week or two to see what effect, if any, the new variant will have on them.

According to Adams, the prospect of a third surgery date being rescheduled is making him feel like he's in the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's character, Phil Connors, becomes trapped in a time loop, being forced to relive the same thing over and over.

Not only has the pandemic been to blame for the surgery delays, Adams said, it's also the cause of the slipped prosthetics — when he wears masks, he has to position his glasses differently on his nose, which has shifted the prosthetics out of place.

Despite the frustration of expecting to push the surgery down the road, and the lousy sleep he'll continue to get due to sleep apnea, Adams said he isn't complaining about his situation — people are dealing with worse things.

"It's not something I'm going to get angry about. It's irritating, but really, there's a lot more things going on that matter beside a minor surgery getting pushed off," he said.

Officials expect about 3,000 surgeries to be cancelled per week, allowing staff to be redeployed elsewhere, including vaccination clinics. 

Urgent and emergency surgeries will still go ahead.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?