Assuming doctors are working 120% more hours than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, which Dr Adam Kassam, president of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) calls ‘unsustainable’, The estimated time to catch up with the most common medical procedures will still be up to two years.
“Using that ratio, we know that there is a 30 month wait for a knee replacement, 20 months for a hip replacement, 25 months for cataract surgery. So we are talking months and years for the patients of Ontario,” Kassam said.
“Our numbers right now are pretty staggering,” he added.
Elective surgeries were canceled at the beginning of the pandemic, and in a third wave, healthcare workers are now scrambling to find ways to be creative and innovative in order to get them back on track.
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“Before COVID, we had this vision to do day surgery on the hip and knee and once you have that at the heart… then what do you think we all need to do? Blood conservation and pain management strategies are the two most important factors and then physical therapy to help the patient regain consciousness on the day of surgery,” said Dr. Stephen Halman, Chief of Surgery at Humber Hospital River said.
Halman can remember not too long ago when non-emergency surgeries were halted and focused on the intensive care unit and more and more critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“We’re a really tight team every morning to go through the list and make sure we’ve optimized every operating room we have, the inpatient beds are still available for surgery. at full capacity and working with everyone, the nurses. , the clerical staff, everyone worked so hard to make sure we kept up the volume of emergency surgeries,” he recalls.
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OMA finds the pandemic has created a staggering backlog of nearly 20 million healthcare services, including doctor visits, diagnostic testing, treatment and surgery.
The backlog is based on OHIP data from March 2020 to September 2021.
“Someone’s hip or knee replacement has been delayed, it’s someone’s cataract surgery that’s been delayed, that’s colonoscopy, mammograms, cancer screening and Diagnostic care has been delayed. So this is a significant concern in the profession and for the patient,” says Kassam.
OMA recently launched a plan to address the backlog and improve healthcare in the province.
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“There are many areas where we believe collaboration and collaboration can really help. So first and foremost, healthcare is a team sport and we have called for increased funding not only from the provincial government but also from the federal government to tackle the problem. stagnation of services,” said Kassam.
At Humber River Hospital, in the obstetrics and gynecology departments, one way the team addressed the backlog was by creating an outpatient hysteroscopy clinic.
“The wait time to get into the clinic is a lot shorter… your recovery is also quicker so maybe within an hour or an hour and a half you are back home and back to your normal activities.,André Laroche, head of obstetrics and gynecology and medical director of the Maternal Child Program, explains.
“Hysteroscopy is having a look inside the uterus with a small camera … What allows us to do is diagnose and treat certain medical conditions that lead to abnormal uterine bleeding, postmenopausal bleeding, or infertility.,‘ Laroche said.
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For patient Ioana Caracas-Lupu, the clinic helped her with the procedure in a timely manner and, most importantly, getting the answers she needed.
“It was nice that I was able to get a quick visit because I had been having trouble finding a gynecologist for about a year and it was definitely not OK to go through the symptoms,” she said.
Halman calls COVID-19 a “great accelerator,” noting that the pandemic has forced healthcare leaders to find ways to accomplish things they were previously unable to accomplish.
“We were able to be much more efficient and go back to where we hadn’t even opened up our rooms and we weren’t done there yet. Maybe January will get us up to 100% from pre-COVID. But at that point, we could be closer to 110 120% of where we are,” he said.
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