GBGH readies to resume elective procedures

A doctor looking through an eyepiece on a machine as he operates. An assistant is beside him.

June 15, 2020 – After spending weeks conducting detailed planning to safely resume some elective surgeries and procedures, Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has received approval to start some surgeries and diagnostic imaging. The hospital is still awaiting approval of ambulatory care and endoscopy procedures, but anticipates this approval by June 22.

Elective surgeries and procedures were halted in mid-March based on direction from the provincial government due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This action was taken to ensure hospitals could maintain inpatient beds, supplies (personal protective equipment – PPE) and medication to care for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients.

“Although necessary, we recognize this situation has been frustrating for patients whose care was postponed due to COVID,” says Gail Hunt, president and CEO, GBGH. “Hospitals never want to make the difficult decision to delay elective procedures because people have been patiently waiting for their care. Now we must carefully plan how we re-schedule these patients in a timely manner while taking into consideration their condition, enhanced cleaning measures, physical distancing and patient flow through our hospital. Re-opening under these circumstances is a much more complex process than pausing services.”

The resumption of services is based on criteria laid out by the government which must be approved before a hospital can proceed. These include a stable rate of COVID cases in the area, a reliable supply of PPE and medication, having a plan for pre-operative diagnostic testing, and having staff and space to care for patients in the event of a COVID patient surge.

During the past several weeks, GBGH has worked with other hospitals in the region to develop a gradual, staged recovery plan. The first phase of GBGH’s plan focused on resuming surgical and diagnostic imaging procedures. Other procedures will return in the coming weeks as additional approvals are granted.

“GBGH continued performing urgent and emergency procedures during the past three months, but our physicians and staff are eager to return to elective work,” says Dr. Vikram Ralhan, chief of staff and Emergency physician, GBGH. “We know there is a significant backlog in cases and we want to work through these safely and efficiently in the patients’ best interest. Over the coming weeks patients will begin receiving calls to schedule their procedures.”

Patients will have a different experience than they may anticipate when coming to GBGH. The hospital appreciates their cooperation and patience as new precautions could include:

  • Changes to the physical environment – how patients enter and travel through the hospital
  • Changes to the pre-operative and post-operative process – virtual pre-op appointments, self-isolation for 14 days where feasible and required, recovery
  • Safety measures to protect patients and hospital staff – wearing a mask, visitor restrictions



Jennifer Moore

Communications Officer, GBGH

705-526-1300 ext 5177