WRH making progress to reduce surgical backlog but some obstacles remain


Windsor Regional Hospital is making strides to reduce a surgical backlog that was built up as a result of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic but some barriers remain.

As of June 4, 2023, there were 1,531 patients waiting for surgery, a figure that does not include cancer surgeries.

The latest figure is well below the backlog of 4,020 non-urgent and non-emergency surgeries reported on May 19, 2022.

Rosemary Petrakos, Clinical Vice President of Surgery at Windsor Regional Hospital, says they've engaged a few strategies to help reduce the backlog including working with the surgeons office on data clean-up.

As part of the data clean-up, people still on the wait list were contacted to see if they still needed surgery, did they have it somewhere else, or did they move away.

Petrakos says they've also added some Saturday surgery time.

"Along with that we've been scheduling operating rooms an extra hour and a half at the end of their day to do a 'long waiter' and we expect that 40 per cent of their scheduled cases in the day to be 'long waiters,'" she says.

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Surgeons at Windsor Regional Hospital perform an endovascular aneurysm repair. (Image courtesy of Windsor Regional Hospital)

Petrakos says one of their biggest barriers to completing more surgeries involves health-human resources, citing the province-wide shortage of anaesthesiologists, x-ray technicians and physical therapists who are needed before, during and after surgery.

"It's the support staff and anaesthesia staff that we're very short of. If we had the bodies we needed to do the work, we could open up all of our 19 ORs," she says.

Both the Met Campus and Ouellette Campus have a combined 19 operating suites available.

Windsor Regional Hospital currently has a compliment of 28 full and part-time anaesthesiologists and is actively working to recruit more.

Petrakos is asking the public to be patient because they are working hard to get to all the surgeries.

"I think that when we call to say we have a surgical date for you, you accept the surgical date," she says. "It's surprising that when we call a patient for a surgical date that they still want to postpone."