British Columbia

Fraser Health introduces virtual pre-admission surgical screening

Video conference consultations will eliminate the need for in-person hospital visits and lower the risk of coronavirus exposure.

An estimated 80 per cent of surgical patients will now be able to hold consultations via video conference

File photo of a surgical theatre. With elective surgeries returning to B.C., Fraser Health says some patients will be able to do their presurgical assessments via video conference instead of in person. (CBC)

Fraser Health says the majority of surgical patients needing pre-admission assessments will now be able to do them via video conference, lowering the risk for coronavirus exposure by eliminating the need for in-person hospital visits.

Fraser Health president Dr. Victoria Lee estimates 80 per cent of all such consultations in the region can be done virtually.

"We've learned a lot during COVID-19 about what services we can provide virtually," said Lee. 

The health authority will also be offering group information sessions via video conference.

Last week, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the province would be resuming elective surgeries that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He estimated it will take two years and cost $250 million to clear the backlog created by more than two months of cancellations.

Fraser Health says it is contacting patients who had their surgeries delayed to ask if they would like to go ahead with the procedure while COVID-19 is still a concern.

Urgent, emergent or oncology-related surgeries will continue to be prioritized. 

Fraser Health serves more than 1.8 million people living in communities stretching from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.

Lee did not know if the four other health authorities in B.C. were also offering virtual screenings. 

Elective surgeries were cancelled in B.C. in March at the beginning of the pandemic in order to preserve hospital space for potential COVID-19 patients.

It's estimated 93,000 people are now waiting for elective surgery.

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