Wellington County hospitals preparing to resume cancelled procedures

WELLINGTON COUNTY – With direction from the province, the three hospitals in Wellington County are gradually resuming non-essential and elective surgeries.

In April, the province mandated hospitals to cease those procedures and to accept out-of-area patient transfers in an effort to increase province-wide intensive care unit (ICU) capacity for COVID-19 patients during the third wave of the pandemic.

Stephen Street, CEO of Groves Memorial Community Hospital, Louise Marshall Hospital, and Palmerston and District Hospital, said with that directive now rescinded, hospitals are preparing to provide full service once again.

Street said non-urgent and elective surgeries and endoscopies were put on hold during the provincial directive, resulting in a backlog of approximately 50 local cases that hospital staff will begin to schedule.

He added only one out-of-area COVID-19 patient was treated in the three local hospitals and has since been discharged.

As for local COVID-19 patients, “I don’t have an exact number, but it’s been dozens over the course of the year,” he said.

Some staff were redeployed to other hospitals to help with the workload and Street said that will continue as long as the need continues.

In a press release, Lee Fairclough, president of St. Mary’s General Hospital and the regional hospital lead for Waterloo-Wellington, said area hospitals are still operating additional ICU beds and that new admissions for acute and ICU beds continues.

So, resuming non-urgent and elective services will be a gradual process.

“We will start with surgeries that are not expected to require inpatient or critical resources, in order to maintain the ability to rapidly respond to increases in COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, as needed,” Fairclough said.

“As a region, we will continue to closely monitor COVID cases, and respond quickly.

“It will take time to fully restore surgical and procedural care in our hospitals, but I am glad we’re at this point in the process.”