Ontario develops framework to resume scheduled surgeries and procedures


Published May 7, 2020 at 5:48 pm


At a May 7 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and announced that the Ontario government is releasing a plan to resume scheduled surgeries and procedures.

This announcement was made today (May 7) by Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

A comprehensive framework has been developed by the government of Ontario to help hospitals assess their readiness as well as begin planning for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, while still maintaining the capacity to respond to COVID-19.

Timelines will vary from hospital to hospital and be conditional on approval by regional oversight tables that are involved with planning and coordinating the province’s response to COVID-19.

“We’re taking a responsible and gradual approach to resuming scheduled surgeries, one that will keep our health care system strong, protect our frontline staff and patients, and ensure our hospitals stay prepared for any potential outbreak or surge of COVID-19,” said Premier Ford.

“We’re asking each hospital to come up with a plan based on their community’s needs and the trends they’re seeing on the ground. Together, we can get surgeries back on track as soon as possible.”

The framework, called A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, possesses criteria that must be met before hospitals can resume scheduled surgeries.

This includes ensuring that the hospital and its region have a stable number of COVID-19 cases, a stable supply of personal protective equipment, a stable supply of medications, an adequate capacity of inpatient and intensive care unit beds, an adequate capacity of health human resources and the availability of post-acute care outside the hospital that would be required to support patients after discharge.

This will also ensure that hospitals take a responsible approach that prioritizes the health and safety of patients and health care workers and maintains plans to support long-term care homes in their region.

“Delaying scheduled surgeries was one of the toughest decisions we had to make as we responded to the growing threat of COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott.

“However, it was imperative to ensure our readiness to protect the health and wellbeing of Ontarians as we planned for a worst-case scenario. Due to the collective efforts of everyone to stop the spread of this virus, we are now in a position where we can begin to plan for ramping up surgeries.”

Hospitals will need to assess whether there are adequate staffing, equipment and other resources to resume scheduled care as a first step, which will be revisited on a weekly basis to reflect evolving needs and requirements, including responding to any COVID-19 local surges that may occur.

The framework also sets out the criteria for prioritizing surgeries such as a patient’s condition, the type of procedure a patient requires and whether options for non-operative treatments exist, the associated risks of delaying a patient’s surgery and the resources required in terms of personal protective equipment, medications, intensive care unit beds, and other care requirements needed after an operation.

Hospitals are also encouraged to look for opportunities to improve care delivery for scheduled surgical and procedural care, which could include using services that reduce patient time spent in acute care settings, the use of virtual care, care in the community, post-op remote monitoring programs, outpatient care and the use of e-consults services, virtual medical assessments and triaging.

When asked about getting together for Mother’s Day, Ford told reporters that families should use their common sense and advised that he didn’t think gathering in groups would be a good idea.

In terms of cottages, Ford emphasized the importance of following the rules and stressed the fact that we need to continue working together.

“Let’s all work together and get through this. Right now, please, just respect the rules,” said Ford.


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