'People should not be worried' about evening diagnostic imaging appointments, Health PEI says
'This in no way is any indication of any sinister condition that they have'
Appointments for some of Health PEI's diagnostic imaging services, including mammography screenings and CT scans, are being scheduled at unusual times compared to what was typical before COVID-19.
Some appointments are being scheduled later into the evening with the aim of clearing a backlog of appointments that were delayed due to the pandemic.
"People should not be worried," said Gailyne MacPherson, director of hospital services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and also responsible for diagnostic imaging provincewide.
"I think that the schedulers are making that clear to the patients … that this in no way is any indication of any sinister condition that they have."
The extended hours will take place in the evenings when there is sufficient complement of hospital staff. There will also be some services scheduled over the weekends, with some appointments for things like CT scans being scheduled as late as 10:45 p.m.
"We're doing like 16, 17 hours of coverage per day," MacPherson said.
In mid-March, some services, like mammography screenings, were halted.
Mammography screenings are usually recommended for women between the ages of 40 and 74 and are usually done every second year, depending on family history and other factors. It can also be booked without a doctor referral.
MacPherson said while Health PEI is running a couple of months behind in screenings, they were still being conducted when cases were considered urgent.
"We were trying to ensure that the most urgent people got their imaging first and now we have some extra supports," she said.
"Both from a staff perspective as well as a radiologist perspective because there's no point in performing the scans unless you have someone to read them and give the report."
'Anxious to work'
"From both perspectives we have some more people available to perform those tasks and so we're gearing up, trying to get as many in, in case we have a [second] wave," MacPherson said.
MacPherson said they were able to add the extended hours as more staff have become available.
"We're not without staff to perform this and people are anxious to work," MacPherson said.
Patients who have been coming in for the appointments have been accommodating, she said, and it has been appreciated.
"People are anxious to get in, it takes a little bit of logistical manoeuvring to ensure the social distancing," MacPherson said.
Health PEI is asking patients to refrain from bringing someone to accompany them to appointments unless absolutely needed in an effort to maintain physical distancing.
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With files from Tony Davis