As COVID-19 cases in the Central Okanagan continues to surge, health care settings have had to adjust to accommodate incoming patients, including cancelling or pushing back surgeries once again.
During a Thursday, Aug. 12, COVID-19 press conference, Health Minister Adrian Dix said it has been a challenging time for the health care sector, with multiple contributing factors as to why some surgeries are being cancelled again.
“At Kelowna General Hospital, Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Royal Inland Hospital, we’ve been doing more surgeries than we’ve done before,” he said.
“That reflects the extraordinary work of people there, (but) there are staffing challenges in our system that are connected to extraordinary demand… when you have circumstances such as people off sick in terms of COVID-19, that has an impact as well.
“There have been the cancellation of a small number of surgeries; I think 50 over the coming week in terms of cancellation of surgeries at Kelowna General Hospital. This reflects the adjustments we make all the time based on the circumstances.”
Dix added the cancellations allow for staff and resources to be moved around to where they are needed more during this time: to help people deal with the heat, wildfire smoke, and COVID-19.
“There are challenges at Kelowna General, there are challenges in other health care facilities in the province, for health care professionals and health care workers and we’re working through those,” he said.
Dix and B.C.’s top doctor Bonnie Henry also addressed burnout within the health care sector, something expressed by several local nurses on social media as of late.
“It does not surprise me that people are burning out, that they’re leaving their profession. I see that from physicians; I see that from my ICU colleagues who are having challenges finding that balance again in our lives… I see it from all across the health sector,” she said.
“We do need to do what we can to support nurses, to support all of the health care workers in our settings all across the province,” Henry said.
Henry and Dix also announced a new mandate for long-term care and assisted living workers: they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 12 as a condition to their employment.
The mandate comes as the virus continues to infiltrate long-term care facilities, with the Interior Health region recording seven facility outbreaks: One in Cranbrook, one in Nelson, and five in the Central Okanagan.