Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay hospital backlog could take a year to clear

Clearing the backlog of elective surgeries, diagnostic procedures, and MRIs at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) could take a year, the doctor heading up the hospital's COVID-19 response said.

Thousands of cases on waiting list, Dr. Stewart Kennedy says

The backlog for elective surgeries and other procedures at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre could take a year to clear. (Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre)

Clearing the backlog of elective surgeries, diagnostic procedures, and MRIs at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) could take a year, the doctor heading up the hospital's COVID-19 response said.

Dr. Stewart Kennedy said the TBDHU currently has a backlog of 4,000 surgeries, nearly 4,000 MRIs, and nearly 1,000 CT scans and other diagnostic procedures.

"It's going to take us months and months and months to get that back up to the normal running, and get rid of that backlog, if not up to a year," Kennedy said. "Each one of these setbacks puts us way back, so ... my biggest concern now is how to begin to increase the volumes of service so we can meet the needs of the community."

The hospital has been forced to scale back some of its services - including non-essential medical procedures - due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TBDHU was hit with another setback when a doctor working at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19 on June 4. The hospital had been in the process of ramping up non-essential procedures at the time, and was again forced to cancel those procedures due to concerns about a possible outbreak in the hospital.

The hospital said earlier this week that everyone the doctor interacted with - including staff and patients - have been tested, and all tests came back negative.

Now, Kennedy said the hospital is again ramping-up elective procedures.

"Most of these aren't urgent," he said. "But ... it really has to be done at some point in time. It alters the patient's life just waiting for things."

"We do need to step it up a bit, but we still have to follow the guidelines."

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