VCH & PHC: Keeping patients safe as scheduled elective surgeries resume

VANCOUVER Coastal Health (VCH) and Providence Health Care (PHC) announced on Friday they are implementing new measures to help keep patients, clients, staff and medical staff safe as scheduled elective surgeries resume in the coming weeks.   

As part of VCH and PCH restart plans, access to expanded health care services such as surgical, ambulatory and community services, diagnostic imaging and lab testing will resume in a safe manner with protective measures in place. 

On May 19, VCH and PHC will begin increasing surgical capacity across all its hospitals, and restarting elective surgeries so patients have access to the care they need. The plan to restart elective surgeries will be implemented in stages:

* To start, all patients who had surgeries postponed will be contacted.

* Patients who had their elective surgery postponed will be rescheduled with their surgeon.

* Urgent surgeries will be prioritized, and will proceed in a way that maintains patient and staff safety.

* New clinical guidelines will ensure patients are pre-screened for symptoms.

With the gradual restart of additional health care services, patients can expect the following as part of their surgical process:

* When possible, patients will be assessed through a virtual pre-admission clinic by video or phone conference prior to surgery.

* Consistent screening tools and risk assessment guidelines will be used.

* Patients will be assessed 24 to 72 hours prior to surgery, and again upon arrival on the day of surgery.

* Surgeries will be scheduled with time to accommodate additional enhanced cleaning and infection prevention and control measures.

VCH and PHC have put in place technology to support the virtual delivery of Pre-Admission Clinic services where appropriate. This reduces the need for patients to travel to the hospital for in-person visits before their surgeries and includes virtual assessments, consultations and individual or group education sessions.

At VCH and PHC hospitals and clinics, a number of measures are being taken to focus on the safety of patients and clients:

* When arriving at the hospital or clinic site, patients and clients will enter the building from the main entrance – they will be greeted and asked to sanitize their hands.

* The greeter will also ask each patient a few questions to assess if the patient has cold or flu-like symptoms. If so, they will be asked to wear a mask.

* If assistance (mobility, translation, etc.) is required, one family member or support person can accompany the patient.

* As patients move through the hospital or clinic, they will notice new floor decals and signage as a reminder to maintain a physical distance of two metres.

* Staff and physicians will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection.

* VCH sites have enhanced cleaning and disinfection in all high-touch clinical areas as well as in waiting rooms, cafeterias, coffee shops and common areas.

In an effort to provide health care services to as many people as possible, procedures that do not require an operating room or an overnight stay in hospital may be performed at an ambulatory clinic or in an alternative health care facility.  For example, some eye surgeries may be performed in ophthalmology centres, while some day surgeries may shift to private surgical centres.  

Patients who require urgent, emergent and oncology-related surgeries will continue to receive safe, priority care, as they have been throughout the pandemic.

For more information about the BC government’s surgical renewal plan, please visit: