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

Castlegar residents can now report minor crimes to RCMP online

New reporting tool available for Castlegar, Robson, Ootischenia, Thrums, Deer Park, Glade, Tarrys

Castlegar students set to return to in-person classes next week

Students from different grades will be attending school on different days to mitigate threat of COVID-19

Trial date set in Castlegar RCMP shooting death

Constable Jason Tait has elected a jury trial.

Drive-in theatre proposed for Grand Forks

City councillors will vote next month on whether to permit the use of the private property

RDCK recycling depots to join RecycleBC program

Some depots open, others close, and different materials will be accepted

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

28 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

Most Read