Quebecers awaiting surgery currently have less to worry about at the start of the second wave of COVID-19 transmission than during the first wave.
According to the Association des anesthesiologistes de Quebec (AAQ), hospitals have not yet returned to postpone surgeries, even though Public Health reported on Monday 586 new cases of coronavirus in the province and 10 new hospitalizations, for a total of 148 patients in charge in Quebec.
The health establishments have, this time, all the necessary equipment to continue operations and a sufficient number of beds to accommodate patients.
“It is worrying but, unlike the first wave, we prepared,” commented the president of the AAQ, Dr. Bryan Houde, in an interview on the airwaves of LCN. We know that we have medicines in reserve to do the surgeries, whereas that was an issue at the start and during the first wave. We have equipment to protect ourselves, to protect staff and patients as well. We have beds. ”
Further action has been taken knowingly.
“Now, all our patients are tested before coming to the operating room, which allows certain areas to be kept green where surgeries can take place as before,” assured the anesthesiologist, based at the Pierre-Boucher Hospital in Longueuil. We have dedicated areas in the operating room where patients whose status we are not sure about COVID-19 are referred without affecting the rest of our activities. ”
Seniors' residences located near hospitals are also in use: additional beds have been “reserved” to exercise “certain medical supervision” of patients who do not require surgery, in order to “keep room for patients who need surgery. 'to be operated', adds the president of the AAQ.
Lack of arms
No, for the moment, it is not COVID-19 itself that threatens wait times for surgery, but the staff shortage, already deplored before the pandemic, now worsened by the sustained efforts of the staff caring for during the most difficult months of the crisis and the sanitary measures to be taken in the event of infection.
“What worries me the most is at the staff level,” says Dr. Houde. In the majority of operating theaters, we are at 80%, 90% of the operating rate, but we have a fair number of nurses and respiratory therapists. We don't have any games. If some of the children are sick and they have to stay at home, that will definitely affect the operating room services. ”
Thus, ideally, the spread numbers of the new coronavirus should return to the decline sooner rather than later to promote a return to normal in operating theaters.
“If it continues like this, there is still a certain moment when we will reach a level of saturation in hospitals, admits Dr. Houde. When that happens, we will no longer be able to do the surgeries that will be necessary and there will be additional delays for waiting patients over time. That is extremely unfortunate. ”
Last week, the Federation of Specialist Physicians of Quebec (FMSQ) qualified as “mission impossible” the resumption of the 92,000 surgeries postponed by the first wave of COVID-19, due to the shortage of nursing staff and the increase in people infected with the coronavirus.