Some BC surgeries postponed due to unvaccinated healthcare professionals

BC’s health minister Adrian Dix said on Monday that health workers on unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement have an impact on hospitals around the province.

Dix said 3,325 health workers, or about 2.6 percent of the workforce, have not yet been vaccinated and have been put on unpaid leave.

The largest number of them are in Internal Health, with 1,018 health professionals who have worked at least one shift in the last three months, now on leave.

Kelowna General Hospital has reduced two operating rooms this week to compensate for staff who did not meet vaccination requirements and are now on unpaid leave, Dix confirmed.

“This will improve next week with only one operating room reduced, and then in two weeks we hope the situation will improve further,” he said.

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Non-urgent eye care procedures in Kelowna’s eye care center have also been postponed to respond to the need to plan an increase in critical care.

Keremeos has reduced its opening hours in the emergency room, and in the same way, a number of operations in inpatient operations in Kamloops at the Royal Inland Hospital have been postponed.

Dix said that since May last year, when operations were first postponed due to the pandemic, “the vast majority of operating rooms” have continued to run.


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Kelowna General Hospital is closing two operating rooms as staff shortages set in

But there are still challenges, especially in Interior Health and Northern Health, where vaccination rates were the lowest in the province.

At Fraser Health, a small number of surgeries have been postponed, Dix said, due to staff not meeting vaccination requirements, but they do not expect further disruption.

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Abbotsford Regional Hospital continues to keep an operating room closed due to the ongoing demand for critical care, and by November the hospital will focus on same-day surgeries that do not require a hospital stay, Dix explained.

No operations have been postponed in Vancouver Coastal Health due to unvaccinated staff, but the number of operating rooms that have been operating has already been reduced for some time.

These include two operating rooms at Lionsgate Hospital, three operating rooms at St. Paul’s, an operating room on Mount St. Joseph’s and an operating room at Richmond Hospital.

Dix said there are plans to resume surgery in these operating rooms beginning in the new year at Richmond Hospital and in February at St. Paul’s, Lionsgate and Mount St. Joseph’s.

On Vancouver Island, no surgeries have been affected by unvaccinated personnel.

Non-emergency operations at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital will remain postponed this week, and some will resume next week, Dix said.

“One to two operating rooms will continue to be reduced daily at the hospital to support the ongoing need for critical care,” he added.


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More than 3,000 unvaccinated health workers in BC are on unpaid leave, Dix says

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At the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, procedures in one operating room will continue to be reduced until December 17 to support the demand for critical care.

Meanwhile, Victoria General Hospital has resumed non-emergency surgery.

In Northern Health, where dozens of people in hospitals have already been relocated to make room in the intensive care unit for more patients, Dix said there have been no surgical postponements due to unvaccinated staff.

At Bulkley Valley District Hospital, day-to-day “postponements to support critical care continue,” Dix said.

Dawson Creek Hospital prioritizes acute, acute, and cancerous operations to support critical care capacity and an increase in COVID-19 admissions.

It’s the same situation on St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof, Dix said.

The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George continues to maintain reduced surgical operations, but it is expected to increase to four operating rooms from November, Dix said.

At Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, the operating staff will be relocated to the emergency room in November due to staff pressure.


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At the PHSA, Provincial Health Services Authority, Dix said there have been no surgical postponements due to unvaccinated staff.

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However, BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital will experience an impact on future surgeries due to the upcoming Clinical and Systems Transformation Project, designed to improve the safety, quality and consistency of patient care, Dix added.

-with files from Kathy Michaels

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