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Vancouver Island sees far more surgery delays due to COVID-19 than rest of B.C.

157 surgeries postponed at Island hospitals Sept. 26 to Oct. 2; next highest health authority had 57
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy of B.C. government)

More than 150 non-urgent, scheduled surgeries at Island Health hospitals were postponed in the week of Sept. 26 to Oct. 2.

The 157 pushed-back procedures far exceeds the number of delays every other region across the province faced in that same time frame, with the next closest being Interior Health with 56.

The delayed surgery figures were released during Tuesday’s provincial update on COVID-19.

“Last week I reported that pressures from COVID-19 had caused the postponement of non-urgent scheduled surgeries in several health authorities,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said at the briefing.

“It has an impact on surgeries everywhere, including on Vancouver Island.”

He said every patient who had their appointment delayed would soon receive a phone call where they would get to reschedule their surgery.

“Throughout the pandemic, the people we’re relying on to deliver surgeries are in equal and greater measure counting on all of us to stop the spread so they can do their critical work,” Dix said.

Vancouver Island hospitals have also taken in 22 patients from the Northern Health region who require critical care beds.

Among 32 overall patients from Northern Health transferred by air ambulance to other health authorities’ intensive care units, the 26 diagnosed as COVID-19-positive are all not fully vaccinated, Dix said.

READ: Six new COVID-19 cases at Vancouver Island Regional Correction Centre

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health said they don’t break down where individual transfers are sent, but Island Health had 72 critical care beds in use as of Oct. 7.

There are 350 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C. as of Wednesday, including 136 in intensive care.

“The situation is being managed, but it is not in a good way when you have to make the kind of decisions we’ve had to make,” Dix said.

Healthcare workers are working flat out and “deserve better than people diminishing their work,” he added.

“We have some of the best outcomes for people in critical care, but do you know what would be better, fewer people in critical care with COVID-19. You know how we deal with that, we get vaccinated, it’s free, it’s available, get it done.”

RELATED STORY: B.C. COVID-19 infections rise, 752 confirmed Wednesday

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted that the Delta variant is affecting more young people and COVID-19 vaccines give very strong protection against severe illness.

“Not only is (Delta) way more transmissible, it’s causing more severe illness in younger people and we see that every day in our ICUs here now, in our hospitals, in the number of people who have severe illness, and sadly, in the number of deaths that we’re seeing,” she said.

As of Tuesday, 90 per cent of people in critical care due to COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated and 17 out of 18 people under the age of 40 were unvaccinated.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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