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Hundreds of Victoria surgeries cancelled at Royal Jubilee Hospital

Cancellations to run into late October
The Royal Jubilee Hospital is reducing the number of surgeries performed between Sept. 5 and Oct. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)

The familiar refrain of health-care workforce challenges is the reason behind the short-notice postponement of surgeries at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Island Health said in a statement that the closure of one of the 10 operating rooms at Royal Jubilee Hospital effective Sept. 5 to Oct. 27 will affect about 160 patients who will have to postpone and reschedule their procedures already booked into their surgeons’ schedules.

“We know that short-notice postponements of medical procedures have a negative impact on patients and their families,” the statement said. “We want our patients to have certainty that when they have a procedure scheduled, it will take place as planned. We are committed to ensuring that individuals who have their surgery postponed will be rescheduled as soon as possible. We recognize the challenges faced by patients and our care teams, and we appreciate your patience and leadership as we work through this unprecedented pressure on our system. While it is an extremely busy time at our hospitals, we want to reassure the public that we are open and ready to take care of anyone who shows up in need of care.”

Surgical capacity is generally reduced in the summer, with 18 of the 22 operating rooms at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals in use before ramping back up in the fall.

VGH will increase to running nine operating rooms daily while RJH will be limited to nine of the 10 that were in use during the summer.

Plans are in place to ramp back up using an additional operating room at each hospital in November.

ALSO READ: End of an era at Victoria's Royal Jubilee Hospital

Island Health said an aggressive, nationwide recruitment campaign is underway, and the capacity of perioperative training programs has been increased.

The health human resources shortage is not unique to Island Health or even B.C., the statement noted, and this is a national and international issue.

“Health care professionals with training and experience in surgical services are in incredibly high demand,” the statement said. “We are also working with individual staff to explore creative employment supports to improve retention, maximizing scope of practice for the LPN role in perioperative units where possible and utilizing agency staff where possible.”

Despite the reduced schedule, 121,580 operating room hours were completed across Island Health for the 2022/23 fiscal year, an increase of 5,617 hours compared to pre-COVID hours.

Surgical volumes have also increased, with Island Health completing 72,706 cases, an increase of seven per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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