Nearly all of the surgeries that were postponed in B.C. at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have now been completed, the province's health minister announced Wednesday.
Adrian Dix gave an overview of surgeries completed in the late summer and fall in B.C. As of Nov. 22, 90 per cent of patients who had their surgery postponed last spring had undergone their procedures.
Last March, non-urgent surgeries were postponed as hospitals worked to make sure they had capacity for COVID-19 patients. By May 18, non-urgent surgeries resumed with about 30,000 appointments either postponed or unscheduled during that two-month period.
"We launched B.C.'s commitment to surgical renewal in May. Since then, learning and adaptation have occurred each step of the way," Dix said in a statement. "These are significant achievements and our work will continue to build on this progress in the winter-to-spring period."
As of Tuesday, seven hospitals in the Fraser Health region and two hospitals in the Vancouver Coastal Health region were managing active COVID-19 outbreaks.
"Obviously at a certain point, where there are outbreaks in a particular hospital it affects surgeries," Dix said, pointing to outbreaks at Burnaby Hospital and Lions Gate Hospital as examples.
"Those outbreaks do have an effect. It's one of the reasons why high on our priority list is immunizing, making safe our acute-care hospitals."
Across the province, 367 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 77 patients in intensive care.
"Everyone involved in delivery surgeries counts on each of us to stop the spread to keep our hospitals safe and our surgeries possible," Dix said.
In the last report on surgeries, given in early September, Dix noted procedure times were almost back to normal. During the initial COVID-19 response, however, surgeries were taking about 26 per cent longer to complete.
Since the beginning of April, 33 more surgeons have been hired in B.C. along with 32 anesthesiologists.
In total, it's expected it'll take 15 to 22 months to recover all postponed surgeries, with the final 10 per cent expected to be completed in the next few months.
"Our progress, so far, in fighting COVID-19 and the remarkable achievements in our surgical renewal commitment make it clear: in a pandemic, each of us have an essential role in health care," Dix said.