A number of non-urgent surgeries at Lions Gate Hospital are being put on hold for the next two weeks as the province grapples with a surging number of COVID patients being hospitalized throughout the Lower Mainland.
Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Thursday that about 1,750 surgeries will be cancelled over the next two weeks in hospitals around the Lower Mainland.
The cancellations are needed to free up hospital staff to care for COVID patients in critical care.
Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s medical health officer, announced the surgery cancellations as the province marked a new record numbers of hospitalizations – which hit a peak of over 500 in the past week. As on Monday, there were 484 people hopsitalized with COVID-19. Of those, there were 158 people in intensive care provincewide. In Vancouver Coastal Health, there were 145 people with COVID in hospital and 49 in critical care.
No official numbers are available for the number of COVID patients at Lions Gate Hospital, but unofficial reports put the recent number at over 30, with approximately a third in critical care.
The hospital has been operating at close to 100 per cent capacity.
Throughout the Lower Mainland, “The number of hospitalizations and people in ICU continues to be alarming and to rise,” said Henry on Thursday. “The pressure on our healthcare system is immense right now.”
To deal with that, and the pressures on the hospital staff who care for those patients, about 1,000 non-urgent surgeries will be cancelled over the next two weeks in Vancouver Coastal Health, said Dix, including surgeries at Lions Gate, Richmond, St. Paul’s, UBC and Vancouver General hospitals.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, the cancellations will mean approximately 12 surgeries a day will be postponed at Lions Gate Hospital. There are about 100 elective surgeries a day done at Lions Gate on average, according to Vancouver Coastal Health including about 40 in main operating rooms and 60 in smaller "procedure rooms." The health authority said 42 surgeries were put on hold at the hospital between April 12 and the latest announcement, to deal with the surge in COVID patients.
About 750 surgeries will also be cancelled in the Fraser Health Region.
Dix said the surgery cancellations are expected to be in place for at least two weeks.
"This is a temporary measure to ensure we can continue to care for everyone who is seriously ill and needs urgent care - whether they have COVID-19 or another illness. This is not a decision made lightly. We recognize this will have an impact on those who have been waiting their turn, and we will work to reschedule these surgeries as soon as we can,” he said.
As seniors get vaccinated, people in their 50s are making up a greater proportion of COVID patients who end up in hospital. According to information from B.C.’s Centre for Disease Control, people in their 50s recently made up about 18 per cent of COVID patients in critical care, although people in their 60s and 70s still account for the largest share of patients in ICU. Fifty people in their 50s have also died of COVID-19 in B.C., along with 18 people in their 40s, 14 people in their 30s, one person in their 20s and two children.