Gradual Resumption of Services Requires a Careful, Cautious Approach

– The Ontario government has lifted its directive issued in March, which restricted elective and non-urgent surgical and clinical procedures, programs and clinics.  In expectation of the resumption of services, Sault Area Hospital (SAH) has been working regionally to plan for a safe, cautious reopen and reschedule of services.

The easing of the provincial directive calls for a gradual resumption of carefully thought-out scheduled cases.

“We are all looking forward to restoring services that have been paused for several weeks while we worked to protect our community from the risks of COVID-19,” says Dr. Silvana Spadafora, Chief of Staff of Sault Area Hospital. “We ask our community to please be patient while we take the steps necessary to allow a safe, slow and cautious approach to gradually resuming services.” The earliest that some services or procedures will be reintroduced will be June 9, 2020.

We have developed a hospital-based plan that was shared and approved regionally and reviewed by our SAH Clinical Teams, Algoma Public Health and regional health care system partners. “The same detailed, collaborative approach in restoring postponed hospital services is being undertaken across our region,” says Wendy Hansson CEO Sault Area Hospital. “From June 9, 2020, onward, we will monitor the situation daily within our hospital and community and formally compare our findings at least weekly as a region to determine if changes are necessary to our plan,” explains Hansson.

Patients will be notified of their rescheduled surgeries and other appointments. Please do not contact the hospital about a postponed appointment.  Patients who are waiting for surgery will be contacted directly by their physician’s/surgeon’s office.  Virtual visits will continue to be utilized by physicians as much as possible to support patient appointments.

“In developing a plan for the resumption of services, all hospitals are using an ethical framework designed by the Ontario government to prioritize patient care. Resuming scheduled hospital-based care for patients waiting for treatment has to be very carefully weighed with the overriding need to ensure Ontario hospitals can maintain the capacity to be ready for any surge in COVID-19 patients,” explains Dr. Spadafora.

Resumption of services will roll out in phases over the coming weeks as follows:

Phase 1 of the recovery plan will focus on the resumption of surgical and cardiac procedures and tests. We will be resuming services at about 60% of our normal activity.  Our decisions regarding which cases will be rescheduled is based on an established priority.

Phase 2 will see our services resume to approximately 75% of our normal case activity.  This increase will be reached by mid to late July. 

It’s important to note that the SAH may need to stay in a specific phase for several weeks at a time, or longer, or return to an earlier phase, depending on occupancy, personal protective equipment (PPE) and drug supply status.

SAH will continue to monitor and reassess this plan, in partnership with Algoma Public Health and our regional partners, on an ongoing basis, especially if there is a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the community.

In the meantime, current COVID-19 policies and procedures, including visitor restrictions, remain in place.

To find out more about SAH, visit: 

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