WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores HealthCare are working on a local plan to gradually resume non-urgent surgeries after the province announced its halt on these procedures has been lifted.

According to a WRH news release, the government’s criteria for resuming these procedures requires “an initial focus on resuming outpatient and day surgeries and procedures only.” At this time, hospital can only resume day surgeries that do not require an in-patient bed post-operation.

“As we cautiously resume non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures, we are working to find ways to operate beyond our standard capacity over the coming months to reduce the backlog created by this and previous COVID waves,” said ESHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ross Moncur.

The directive also highlights the need for Ontario hospitals to “closely monitor” human resource needs and critical care capacity to ensure hospitals do not go over volumes and resources.

Hospitals that meet the criteria may “cautiously begin resuming” non-urgent surgeries and procedures that are not expected to require inpatient resources, working closely with Ontario Health and our regional leadership to plan this work.”

“We will continue to work as a hospital alongside our regional hospital partners to plan to resume all surgeries as quickly as possible, but the ramp-up will begin incrementally, starting with day surgeries and surgeries not requiring bedded capacity as per Ontario Health direction,” said WRH Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad. “In the meantime, we will continue as we always have with urgent and emergent cases and hope to have more information in the days to come.

Both hospitals are asking for the public’s patience in regards to rescheduling the thousands of surgical procedures that have been postponed over the last year.

When the postponement of surgeries after the first wave was lifted in May 2020, WRH says surgeons’ offices were overwhelmed with calls from patients.

“While we understand patients are anxious to have their postponed procedures rescheduled, WRH and ESHC are reminding patients that they will be notified directly of opportunities to reschedule surgeries and other appointments by their surgeon's office,” the news release says.

Patients are asked not to contact hospitals or surgeons’ offices about a postponed appointment, and surgeons will look at their cases to prioritize who can be scheduled and when.

“This will be a gradual and incremental restoration of more elective surgeries which will take many weeks, especially when you consider the volume of procedures that needed to be rescheduled and the need for pre-operative care that has been on hold,” said Dr. Saad. “Please be patient while we take the steps necessary to continue a safe, slow and incremental approach to gradually addressing the needs of all of our patients and their loved ones.”

WRH CEO David Musyj says the hospital could resume same day surgeries as early as next week.

Windsor Regional is about 7,000 surgeries behind, and typically perform $22,000 a year.

“So if you do the math, if for some reason we were able to do 30 per cent more surgeries in a given year we normally do, that’s not going to be the case, we could get the backlog done within one year,” Musyj says. “That’s going to take a lot of work to be able to come close to that so it’s gonna take some time.”

More information regarding Ontario Health directives can be found here.