During a press conference Tuesday, Dr. Colette Bellavance, Director of Professional services at the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS explained that semi or non-urgent activities in outpatient clinics, surgeries, oncology and medical imaging are gradually resuming in local hospitals.
The goal overall is to reach 70 per cent of the services usually available.
Bellavance explained that no health networks in the province will exceed 70 per cent of services for the time being due to the additional labour required for personnel doing COVID-19 testing and treating patients, as well as a need to keep beds and medication available in the event of new outbreaks.
Although the services offered to the population have had to be adapted due to the pandemic, all urgent interventions have been completed, regardless of the sector of activity.
Priority: Urgent and semi-urgent surgeries
The volume of surgical activities currently corresponds to 50 per cent of the usual volume. Measures are in place to plan surgeries based on clinical priorities related to the conditions of those on the waiting list. The gradual resumption of activities will limit the increase in the number of people waiting.
Specialty Outpatient Clinics: A Resumption Based on Specialties
Different specialties, such as outpatient orthopedic or allergy clinics, require different accommodations to ensure effective recovery. CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS plans to reach the target of 70 per cent recovery of the volume of activities as soon as possible. Tele-consultations are being maintained.
Oncology close to regular level of activity
The volume of activity in oncology is at 80 per cent of the regular activity level. For the time being, the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer du sein (PQDCS), which is systematically applied to all women over the age of 50, has been interrupted since the beginning of the pandemic and has not been resumed until now. All regular follow-ups of users who are not under active treatment are done by teleconsultation.
The recovery of X-Rays and medical imaging services will take place during the day, evenings and weekends. For non-urgent cases, depending on the service and the installation, service varies between 30 and 100 per cent.
The hospital: a safe environment
According to the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, teams are trained and equipped to take care of patients safely. Zones are reserved for different users depending on the situation:
Cold zone: for users without COVID-19;
Warm zone: for persons suspected and awaiting a test result for COVID-19;
Hot zone: for people with COVID-19.
These areas are well defined and secure. Personnel wear personal protective equipment required by the situation and all infection prevention and control measures are in place for the safety of all.
Bellavance explained that if clients receive a call for an intervention, it is because health professionals are sure that it can be done in a safe way, and they deem the appointment necessary for the patient’s health. Anyone called for an appointment will be given a detailed list of questions to determine if they have COVID-19 symptoms or could be in a high risk group. While those who refuse an appointment because they are worried about COVID-19 will remain in the same place on the waiting list, Bellavance stressed that measures are in place to keep patients safe. She added that appointments are now being organized in a way that patients wait in their vehicles whenever possible and are alerted when they can go directly to the doctor or specialist rather than sit together in a waiting room.