MUSKOKA, ON-Muskoka residents are now being contacted by physicians to schedule elective surgeries with Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) starting this week.  

MAHC said that it had started the gradual resumption of certain surgeries and procedures that were stopped mind-Mach when hospitals were directed to halt as part of the response to COVID-19.  

Following the government approval this week, however, MAHC is beginning the first phase of a measured return-to-service plan that adheres to strict criteria that were established by the province.

This includes having an appropriate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), medication, staff and community services to care for recovering patients, and having the proper inpatient bed capacity and a manageable number of COVID-19 cases in the region and hospitals.

“Ramping up under a new normal with strict requirements is very complex in two ageing buildings with little flexibility for additional space needs for separation,” said MAHC CEO Natalie Bubela. “Patients will have a different experience than they might anticipate, and things may take longer. New precautions and systems we are implementing in the hospitals include changes to the physical environment and patient flows that respect physical distancing, as well as changes to the pre-operative process.”

MAHC said that health care has drastically changed over the past two months, and resuming various outpatient services that were paused when the hospital prepared for the pandemic will take a few weeks to start back up again.

Bubela notes as they gradually resume elective surgery and continue to plan towards further phases of returning outpatient services, they must keep their restrictions on visitations for the foreseeable future.

“Continuing to limit non-essential traffic in the hospitals, including support people accompanying surgical patients unless deemed an exception, is critical to ensuring the safety of all and an effective gradual ramp up.”

Bubela noted that MAHC is eager to provide care as soon as possible, and their top priority is to make sure everyone remains safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Patients who are waiting for their surgery or procedure will be contacted by their physician’s office to be advised when it will occur.