KHSC ‘ramping down’ non-urgent surgical activity in response to provincial order

Kingston General Hospital main entrance off of Stuart Street. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

In response to rising COVID-19 cases, as a result of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) will begin ramping down non-urgent scheduled surgical procedures and other clinical activities effective immediately. This ramp-down is being made in accordance with the provincial government’s order for all Ontario hospitals announced earlier this week

With the highly contagious Omicron having become the dominant variant in Ontario, KHSC and its peers are anticipating the next several weeks to be very difficult for the overall health system, according to a press release from the hospital organization.

“Hospitals have been asked by Ontario Health to reduce non-urgent activity in order to make available more resources to handle a growing number of admitted patients with COVID across the province,” said KHSC President and CEO Dr. David Pichora. “Postponing less-urgent surgeries will allow us to allocate beds and health-care workers where they are needed most in the coming weeks.”

Patients whose surgeries or procedures will be delayed will be notified by phone by their surgeon’s office, according to the release. If patients do not receive a phone call, KHSC said that they should attend the hospital for their surgical procedure as planned. 

Over the coming weeks, KHSC will be prioritizing surgical care for patients who have suffered traumatic injuries as well as certain cancer surgeries, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery and other cases where medical teams determine that a patient’s care cannot safely be delayed, according to the release.

Day surgeries and procedures that don’t require post-surgical hospitalization may also continue and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, KHSC stated. Any decision to delay will be made by surgical teams after reviewing surgical schedules and considering inpatient hospital volumes and staffing levels.

“As we provide the highest level of specialized care in southeastern Ontario, it is important that we can continue to provide these critical and emergency services on which our patients depend,” Dr. Pichora said. “But we know that this news will be incredibly difficult for any patient whose surgical procedure will be delayed. Our main priority will be to ramp up our services again as soon as we are able to do so.”

In addition to maximizing its resources at both hospital sites – Kingston General (KGH) and Hotel Dieu (HDH) – KHSC is working with its regional hospital partners and within its community partnerships to free up beds and create more capacity to deliver more specialized care, according to the release.

“We also thank everyone for continuing to adhere to the public health measures that will greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as booking vaccine booster doses, masking and practicing physical distancing. We also would like to acknowledge our healthcare workers who continue to demonstrate tremendous perseverance, compassion and dedication in very difficult times,” said Dr. Pichora.

Over the next few weeks, KHSC also encourages patients who are in need of emergency care, either as a result of severe COVID-19 symptoms, or other conditions such as strokes and heart attacks to continue to call 9-1-1 and visit the emergency department at KGH. 

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