B.C. hospitals are quiet since cancelling all elective surgeries to maximize he system’s ability to accept urgent coronavirus patients. (Black Press files)

Patients returning to B.C. hospitals as COVID-19 cases level off

Emergency visits rebounding, scheduled surgeries soon

B.C. hospitals are quieter than they have been in living memory, with more than 4,000 beds cleared in recent weeks for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients.

That’s changing, Health Minister Adrian Dix says, as fear of going to hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic has begun to pass. Emergency room visits have begun to pick up again after Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry began reassuring people that hospital care is still available for those who need it.

Daily emergency visits fell below 3,000 on April 6, less than half what an average day saw in early March. As of April 21, there were 4,015 ER visits, still far below the 6,559 recorded on March 9 before the coronavirus emergency was declared, but rising.

“It’s one of the reasons why Dr. Henry and I have been saying to people that the health care system is there for you,” Dix said at the April 21 briefing. “There are many people struggling with non-COVID-19 related conditions right now, and that system is there for you.”

More than 14,000 scheduled surgeries for everything from cataracts to cancer have been postponed since the pandemic protocol at hospitals took effect March 17, although more than 8,000 scheduled procedures were considered urgent enough to do. The largest category of delayed surgeries is hip and knee replacements.

RELATED: B.C. hospitals getting some scheduled surgeries done

RELATED: Private clinic will help with B.C.’s surgery backlog

Dix and Henry are reluctant to specify when all but the most urgent scheduled surgeries can resume, but senior health ministry officials are working toward early May as long as B.C.’s COVID-19 cases remain low.

Henry said the pending return of scheduled surgeries, thousands of which have been postponed due to the pandemic, means public health orders have to be adjusted to allow urgent dentistry and physiotherapy to resume on a limited basis.

“It’s important to get back to physiotherapy,” Henry said. “It’s important for people who are recovering from those surgeries that are going to start again, for example.”

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital continues to decline, currently at 109 with 51 in intensive care units.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Port Hardy called in record number of black bear sightings last year

Conservation Officers attended 74 of the 314 calls made

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Ruined picnic tables are the main damage

Port McNeill’s outdoor swimming pool will stay closed this summer

The Town of Port McNeill typically hires 12-13 staff for the pool every year.

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read