Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s (MAHC) CEO Natalie Bubela says physicians are preparing to “gradually” ramp-up elective surgeries.

Bubela explains that patients will be contacted by their physician or surgeon’s office to schedule a time. She says it will be up to the doctors to prioritize which patient is brought in first, but adds it will be based on need. “We know that people are very anxious,” Bubela says. 

She adds to not contact your surgeon’s office. “They will reach out to you directly,” she says, asking for patience as they work through the backlog.

While Bubela didn’t have an exact number for how many backlogged surgeries there are at the South Muskoka Memorial and Huntsville District Memorial Hospitals, she estimated there’s between 500 to 700. She based that number on the backlog MAHC worked through when elective surgeries were paused in March 2020. “In a 12 week period, we had about 1,500 procedures – maybe a bit more than that – that were on our waitlist after we resumed,” she says, adding the team was able to catch up quickly then and is confident in their ability to do that again.

“We’re now engaging our surgical teams to really look at our ability to ramp up and begin to develop a safe gradual ramp-up plan,” she says. Elective surgeries were originally paused to allow for hospital staff to be moved around to help with the rising number of COVID-19 patients. 

Non-emergency surgeries were halted by the province on April 20th because of a surging number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to the ICU. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Wednesday with new cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions trending downwards, now is the time to resume elective surgeries. 

“One of the criteria about being able to reopen is that we’re able to quickly pivot and be able to support any additional volume that comes our way,” Bubela says. With that in mind, she adds load sharing will continue between hospitals to help cope with the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are humming along,” Bubela goes on to say, adding the team at Muskoka’s hospitals are working like “well-oiled machines.” She says they are doing “exceptionally well” handling the pandemic.