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Surgery Services

At the beginning of the pandemic, for the safety of patients, families and staff, surgical services were restricted to urgent and emergent procedures. At that time, all elective cases were postponed. This resulted in a reduction in the number of surgeries being completed. The resumption of surgical services remains a priority area as we move through the Alert Levels of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Plan, Living with COVID-19.  
 
An oversight committee including surgeons, anesthesiologists, perioperative program leaders and staff have been working on the resumption planning and reintroduction of services. The oversight committee continues to monitor surgical and procedural activity across the region, working to balance: 
  • waitlists; 
  • equitable access to care; and 
  • regional resource availability in primary care, home and community care, and rehabilitation, with a view to virtual care opportunities.
Surgical services have gradually increased as we moved between the Alert Levels across the region. 
 
Alert LevelPercentage of Cases
Completed Compared
to 2019 
Level 5 22%
Level 4  33%
Level 3 47%
Level 2 90% +
 
 
In Alert Level 2, patients will continue to be prioritized based on urgency, as deemed by their physician. Once patients are identified and selected by their physician for surgery, they will be contacted about their surgery date and preoperative instructions. Also, as restrictions have been lifted, select elective surgeries have been reintroduced such as cataracts and total joint replacements.  
 
What can patients expect? 
 
We are continuing ongoing precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for all surgical patients including: 
Screening all patients for symptoms through a series of questions, using the COVID-19 screening and assessment tool, upon initial contact for operating room procedures.  
 
All patients having surgical procedures must complete COVID-19 swab testing prior to their surgery. Patients will be contacted up to 72 hours before their surgery with an appointment for their pre-surgical swab testing.  
 
Limiting the number of visitors within all our clinics, registration areas, family waiting rooms, and recovery rooms to allow social distancing.  
 
Promoting and following recommendations associated with the correct use of PPE for patients and all Eastern Health staff. 
 
Booking your surgery 
 
Physicians are continuing to review and prioritize their patients for surgery. Once your surgeon has decided to book your surgery, they will notify Eastern Health. Within one (1) week before your surgery, you will be contacted with your surgery date, preadmission information and/or an appointment, and information about the process for COVID swabbing which is required prior to your surgery. 
 
If you have any questions regarding your surgery, please contact your health-care provider’s office directly.  If you feel there has been a change in your health status, please contact your physician or nurse practitioner for an appointment.  If you do not have a family doctor or a regular health-care provider, please call the 811 NL Health Line (811 / TTY 1-888-709-3555) to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week about any health issue or concern.  If your health issue is urgent, please go to the nearest Emergency Department
 
Before your surgery 
 
Patients who have had previous testing related to surgery completed may have to repeat these tests, depending on the time that may have passed. These tests may vary based on the type of surgery you are having.  Your physician’s office will provide you with additional direction, as required. 
 
Patients will be booked for either a virtual pre-operative assessment or an in-person appointment (Pre-Admission Clinic). Some patients may be provided with a virtual pre-operative assessment and receive a telephone phone call from a nurse and anesthesiologist. If your appointment is being completed virtually, you will be notified by telephone and given an appointment.  You will also be booked for a COVID-19 swab a few days before your surgery. All other required tests, such as blood work or ECGs, will be completed on the morning of your surgery.  Other patients may receive an appointment to attend the Pre-Admission Clinic. The appointment takes place one to five days before your surgery.  Your appointment will take two to four hours.  For patients with Pre-Admission Clinic appointments, you will see a nurse and anesthesiologist and they will order tests to be done during your visit.  
 
If you have any questions regarding your surgery, please contact your health-care provider’s office directly.  If you feel there has been a change in your health status, please contact your physician or nurse practitioner for an appointment. If you do not have a family doctor or a regular health-care provider, please call the 811 NL Health Line (811 / TTY 1-888-709-3555) to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week about any health issue or concern. If your health issue is urgent, please go to the nearest Emergency Department
 
Day of surgery
 
We take our responsibility to keep patients and staff safe throughout this pandemic very seriously. As such, we take measures to ensure that everyone has enough space to be able to socially distance from other people. To achieve this within all our clinics, registration areas, and family waiting rooms, we are currently limiting visitors to one support person per each outpatient visit as per current provincial government regulations.    
 
Progress of service resumption – surgery procedures March - November 2020:
 
Surgery, November 2020 progress of service resumption Eastern Health
**Includes all major and minor surgical procedures performed in main operating room(s). Excludes endoscopy, colposcopy, interventional radiology (adult), fertility procedures and caesarean sections (St. John’s). 
 
During the month of November, 3,255 surgical procedures were completed, maintaining the resumption of normal operations*. This also represents an increase of 93 per cent in service volume from June to November 2020.  
 
*Normal operations are defined by the median pre COVID-19 monthly service volume. Read full disclaimer on data 

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Updated Jan 18, 2021