Planned surgeries, procedures 'slowly resuming' at London, Ont., hospitals

Some services will slowly start to resume at London, Ont., hospitals as the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London announce plans to move forward with lessening restrictions put in place as part of the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Thursday, LHSC says the plans follow a directive from the Ministry of Health issued May 26 and regional approval of its plan by Ontario Health West with support from the Middlesex-London Health Unit. St. Joseph’s noted the plans are based on Ontario Health’s framework A Measured Approach Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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The LHSC says planned surgeries, procedures and related ambulatory (or outpatient) care will gradually resume “with prioritization based on clinical evidence and need.”

LHSC says patients will be notified of opportunities to reschedule procedures and appointments, and “will hear directly from their physician’s office when their care can be rescheduled.” St. Joseph’s says “patients will be notified directly when their procedure or appointment will be rescheduled. ”

“When they visit, patients and families will have a different experience than they might anticipate,” said LHSC chief medical officer Dr. Adam Dukelow.

“This includes screening at our doors, physical distancing measures, visitor policies, and changes to some of our processes as we strive to keep everyone safe.”

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St. Joseph’s stresses that its buildings are safe to enter and “it is OK to come in when health care is needed” and that “stringent safety practices” are in place.

“COVID-19 screening is done at entrances, all patients and essential visitors are provided with masks to wear while in our buildings, physical distancing is being maintained in our clinics and throughout our facilities, and specialized cleaning is done before and after each patient visit,” St. Joseph’s said in a statement.

Both St. Joseph’s Health Care London and LHSC say they are continuing to optimize the use of virtual care.

“It is important that we strike a balance between slowly expanding scheduled care and continuing to be ready for whatever COVID-19 might throw our way,” said Neil Johnson, LHSC’s executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

St. Joseph’s medical advisory committee chair Dr. Brian Rotenberg says “it will be some time before St. Joseph’s can fully open all services” due to the ongoing pandemic.

“We recognize this may cause anxiety for patients who are awaiting care,” he said. “Our physicians and teams are closely monitoring our patients and using Ministry of Health guidelines to prioritize those most in need of in-person care or procedures.”

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