British Columbia

B.C. patients wait to see if long-awaited surgeries will be cancelled amid coronavirus measures

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. hospitals are now entering the second phase of outbreak response, accepting only urgent and emergency cases to their operating rooms.

'It's the right decision,' says Surrey resident awaiting elective surgery as non-urgent procedures postponed

Non-essential surgeries are being cancelled across the province as B.C. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even private clinics like Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver are postponing non-urgent procedures. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Surrey, B.C., resident Jasmine Garcha has been waiting nine months for an elective surgery. But now, with just days to go before the scheduled surgery date, she's waiting to see if it's cancelled as B.C. tries to free up beds for COVID-19 patients.

On Monday, she learned that all hospitals in the province are being directed to postpone non-urgent scheduled surgeries, including everything from colonoscopies to hip replacements.

"I think it's the right decision for the health-care system to make, given the outbreak. It's obviously frustrating," Garcha told CBC.

She's now waiting for more clarity from her doctor on what will happen with her surgery.

"The people whose appointments have been rescheduled, are they now pushed to the bottom of the waiting list?" Garcha asked.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. hospitals are now entering the second phase of outbreak response, accepting only urgent and emergency cases to their operating rooms.

At North Vancouver's Lions Gate Hospital, which has been the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak, only emergency patients will be accepted.

Dix told reporters that the plan will be put in place over the next few days, resulting in the cancellations of thousands of scheduled surgeries.

'This is new territory'

Private clinics are also cutting back. At Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, CEO and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Day says surgeries are being cancelled throughout the week to keep patients safe.

"We've cancelled all but what we would call urgent surgeries, which would be patients with potential cancers," Day said.

He said he's not ruling out the possibility of even more cancellations.

"This is new territory for our country, and we have to look at what's happening around the world and learn from the best practices," Day said.

Dix said the measures announced Monday will help redirect health-care workers and resources to critical care related to COVID-19.

As of Monday, six of B.C.'s 103 confirmed COVID-19 patients were in acute care in hospital.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

With files from Andrea Ross

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