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COVID-19: Impact to Services and Operations Healthy People, Healthy Communities
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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 
 
What is being done to resume service delivery back to usual capacity? 
 
The increase in service capacity must be balanced with the need to maintain precautions put in place to keep patients, visitors and staff safe throughout the pandemic. This includes physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, bed occupancy, availability of drugs and supplies, pre-procedure swabbing, additional cleaning protocols between patient visits, and the many new additional measures added to our normal workflow processes to ensure patient and staff safety. 
 
We empathize with all patients and families whose appointments and procedures have been impacted. As of late September, due to the diligent efforts of our management and staff to increase services while also respecting public health orders, all programs have resumed 90-100 per cent pre-COVID service levels, with the exception of Laboratory Services and Children and Women’s Health Operating Rooms at 80 per cent. We would like to reassure all of our patients that we are working diligently as we continue to increase all services safely. More information on specific service areas is available on our Service Resumption section.

What is the plan to catch up on current backlogs/waitlists? 
 
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, large volumes of routine tests and procedures had to be postponed due to public health emergency measures. This resulted in a reduction of services and in an increase of waitlists for health-care services. 
 
In terms of backlogs, some services have no backlog. Some services have implemented their backlog plans and are actively addressing their backlogs through measures such as expanded evening and weekend hours. 
As the province moves through the various Alert Levels, we continue to work diligently to resume services, while also identifying strategies to expand capacity to safely resume services. Among other things, this includes:  
  • increased use of virtual care and other technologies;   
  • extension of clinic times and hours of operations where feasible;  
  • assessment and maximization of staffing levels; and   
  • decreasing number of no-shows.   
What are ‘no-shows’? 
 
When a person doesn’t show at the appointed time for health-care appointments, they are considered ‘no-shows’. We remind patients of the importance of attending your health-care appointment once it has been recently re-confirmed. If you are unable to attend, please cancel your appointment with sufficient notice (at least 48 hours) so that your appointment time can be offered to another patient.  
  
What happens with ‘no shows’? 
 
When a person doesn’t show at the appointed time, or doesn’t give sufficient notice, diagnostic equipment can lie idle, as there is no time to offer that appointment to someone else, resulting in wasted resources of both staff and equipment. Additionally, the ‘no-show’ patient usually needs to be re-booked, which, in turn, slows down the booking/appointment process overall.  Many procedures that require patient preparation, such endoscopies, are also significantly impacted by ‘no shows’.   
 
As we work to resume services, your collaboration is more important than ever. Please partner with us to make the appointment process more efficient and fair for all by: 
  • keeping scheduled appointments,
  • or cancelling with at least 48 hours’ notice, and
  • by keeping contact information up to date. 

I am looking to confirm or cancel an appointment. How do I do that?  
 
The phone number for central bookings is 709-777-6440. If you are looking for X-ray bookings, the number is 709-777-9729.  
 
A listing of direct phone lines for appointments in different service areas is available on our Contact Us page, under Appointments Lines.
 
If you are unable to make your appointment, or are sure your appointment is no longer necessary, please call the number listed in your appointment letter, as soon as possible. To offer the appointment to someone else, clinics need at least 48 hours’ notice. 
 
 
I have been waiting for my appointment for a long time and I am concerned about my health. What should I do? 
 
Patients who have concerns about their health should contact their doctor or nurse practitioner for an appointment. Family physicians are able to consult with on-call specialists to determine whether urgent investigation of a patient’s health issue is required. We realize that patients’ health situations can change over time and that the routine procedures that some patients are awaiting may become emergent and/or urgent as we manage through COVID-19. 
 
If you do not have a family doctor or a regular health provider, please call the 811 NL HealthLine (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. For information regarding family physicians who may be accepting new patients, please visit the Find A Doctor NL webpage: https://www.findadoctornl.ca/.     
 
We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for those awaiting routine procedures. We would like to reassure the public that we are working behind the scenes to review and prioritize patient lists on a regular basis to identify and to complete critical and emergent appointments and surgeries while we continue to expand service capacity.     

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Updated Oct 19, 2020