Local hospitals and other medical practitioners are planning to resume tests and elective procedures following several weeks of near shutdown due to COVID-19 measures.
Hospitals in both Ontario and Québec were instructed by provincial governments to cancel tests, treatments, and elective surgeries in order to maintain staff availability and hospital space if there was a major influx of COVID-19 patients.
The Ontario government recently announced that hospitals can resume elective surgeries, tests, and treatments if they have the capacity.
Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said on May 27 that he has met with the administrators of all four hospitals within the health unit’s jurisdiction to outline the requirements hospitals will have to meet in order to begin offering primary care services again.
Those four hospitals are in Hawkesbury, Alexandria, Cornwall, and Winchester.
Roumeliotis said that hospital management are going over checklists and operations and other services should be able to resume during the next couple of weeks.
He added that the EOHU will also resume its regular primary care programs such as Well Baby Clinics and child vaccination services.
Infection control and prevention will continue to be a top priority at hospitals as the risk of COVID-19 remains a concern, and an adequate supply of personal protective equipment will be crucial.
“Right now, we’re in fairly good shape,” said Michael Cohen, the Chief Executive Officer of Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria.
However, he said the challenge is to make sure enough protective equipment is continually available. Efforts are being made to procure a supply of equipment four to six weeks ahead of time.
Other medical practitioners such as family physicians and dentists are being permitted to accept in-person appointments again. The EOHU and Public Health Ontario have provided a series of rules that must be followed by practitioners and patients alike.
The plan to reintroduce regular services at hospitals in Québec is similar to Ontario’s.
According to Sylvain Pomerleau, the Adjoint Director of the CISSS des Laurentides Regional Health Authority, hospitals under its jurisdiction, including the one in Lachute, are gradually reinstating clinical services and operations. Pomerleau said that resuming oncology services for cancer patients is a priority. He described the resumption of hospital services as progressive and based on need.
Pomerleau also stated that there are not currently any serious challenges with having enough personal protective equipment for hospital personnel.