B.C. hospitals are quiet since cancelling all elective surgeries to maximize he system’s ability to accept urgent coronavirus patients. (Black Press files)

Patients returning to B.C. hospitals as COVID-19 cases level off

Emergency visits rebounding, scheduled surgeries soon

B.C. hospitals are quieter than they have been in living memory, with more than 4,000 beds cleared in recent weeks for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients.

That’s changing, Health Minister Adrian Dix says, as fear of going to hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic has begun to pass. Emergency room visits have begun to pick up again after Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry began reassuring people that hospital care is still available for those who need it.

Daily emergency visits fell below 3,000 on April 6, less than half what an average day saw in early March. As of April 21, there were 4,015 ER visits, still far below the 6,559 recorded on March 9 before the coronavirus emergency was declared, but rising.

“It’s one of the reasons why Dr. Henry and I have been saying to people that the health care system is there for you,” Dix said at the April 21 briefing. “There are many people struggling with non-COVID-19 related conditions right now, and that system is there for you.”

More than 14,000 scheduled surgeries for everything from cataracts to cancer have been postponed since the pandemic protocol at hospitals took effect March 17, although more than 8,000 scheduled procedures were considered urgent enough to do. The largest category of delayed surgeries is hip and knee replacements.

RELATED: B.C. hospitals getting some scheduled surgeries done

RELATED: Private clinic will help with B.C.’s surgery backlog

Dix and Henry are reluctant to specify when all but the most urgent scheduled surgeries can resume, but senior health ministry officials are working toward early May as long as B.C.’s COVID-19 cases remain low.

Henry said the pending return of scheduled surgeries, thousands of which have been postponed due to the pandemic, means public health orders have to be adjusted to allow urgent dentistry and physiotherapy to resume on a limited basis.

“It’s important to get back to physiotherapy,” Henry said. “It’s important for people who are recovering from those surgeries that are going to start again, for example.”

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital continues to decline, currently at 109 with 51 in intensive care units.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

A group of Abbotsford secondary principals’s and vice-principals are at a retreat in Whistler this weekend. (Whistler.com photo)
Abbotsford principals attending retreat in Whistler despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Unclear how reported group of 20 will be following COVID-19 protocols during Whistler Pro-D event

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of Abbotsford student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

John Redekop, with wife Doris, was the 2019 recipient of the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award from UFV. (Photo courtesy of UFV)
Nominations open until Oct. 30 for UFV’s Betty Urquhart Awards

Award recognizes ‘significant impact’ of volunteer work by an individual or group

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read