Québec unveiled its catch-up plan on Thursday to shorten the waiting list for surgery, which has been significantly extended due to the pandemic. We learned that we will have to wait until March 2023 to catch up with the pandemic and return to the same number of patients awaiting treatment as in January 2020.
The province now has 145,000 people awaiting surgery, up 30,000 from before the pandemic.
The catch-up announced by Minister Dubé is not aimed at reducing waiting lists to zero; it is aimed at bringing waiting lists back to the level they were at before the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, a lack of human resources has forced all CIUSSS to abandon planned activities, including operations.
It has only been a few weeks since the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS managed to open up to 87% of its operating rooms (25 out of 29 open rooms). CIUSSS has also signed contracts with two specialized medical clinics where surgeons and anesthetists from the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS work every day to perform certain surgeries, such as cataract surgeries.
500 to 700 operations per week
For several weeks in Estri, between 500 and 700 operations were performed weekly in both hospitals and specialist clinics.
However, this number of surgeries hardly keeps CIUSSS afloat with new requests every week: the number of surgeries increases slightly each week, despite the use of 87% of operating rooms and two private medical clinics.
Minister Dubet also invited all Quebecans awaiting consultation with a specialist to go and consult with them. Because during the pandemic, several patients chose to stay at home and avoid hospitals.
“Compared to a year when there was no pandemic, the number of registrations on the waiting list for surgery decreased by 24%,” said Dr. Opatrny.
Therefore, Quebec believes that there is also an “invisible waiting list” of Quebec residents who have postponed an appointment or have not yet been able to make an appointment with a surgeon due to slowing activity. In outpatient clinics, specialist doctors.
Dr. Opartny urges surgeons and their patients to “stay in touch,” especially if the patient’s situation deteriorates. The surgeon can then change his patient’s priorities. But, as it turned out, the problem remains very complex in Estri. Gallery last February.
When the catch-up is over, Dr. Opatrny plans to complete all non-urgent surgeries in Quebec in less than six months. “I think it will be realistic for March 2024,” she said.
Currently, the treatment of thousands of patients has been suspended for over a year.
A challenge before a pandemic
The problem of human resources in operating rooms existed before the pandemic. Even before COVID-19, CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS almost never managed to open 100% of operating theaters due to a shortage of skilled workers.
It should be noted that the preparation of nurses for work in the operating room takes at least six months.
“Before the pandemic, waiting lists were not optimal,” Deputy Minister Lucy Opatrni admitted in a press briefing.
She explained that waiting lists vary greatly from region to region and even from one specialty to another due to many factors.
The situation in Vostochny settlements is, of course, special, and additional operating rooms have been required for a long time.
Thus, the work will take place at different heights from one health region to another, and different solutions can be proposed according to each regional reality. At the moment, everything is open to Minister Christian Dube.
The reality of the two university hospitals in Sherbrooke is unique in Quebec because operating rooms are used from the first to the fourth line in one university center and over a very large area.
Specialized needs for cancer surgeries (fourth line), for example, compete with conventional first and second line surgeries and all daily emergencies that need to be treated quickly, such as caesarean section, intracranial bleeding on drainage, appendicitis, fractures, etc. surgeries such as brain and heart surgeries must be performed in operating rooms with special equipment and with nurses trained to assist surgeons in their ever-evolving technique.
“It is difficult to choose between two aspects, because the termination of specialized activities will have very dire consequences for the university center, students, surgeons who must maintain their skills, for the region and the patients served, and there will also be many consequences of slowing down the current care, which is easier , but more numerous and in which the population also desperately needs, “- emphasizes the source, which prefers not to indicate.