Staff at the Screening Clinic
In the second wave of the pandemic, people continue to wait for the surgeries they need, as hospitals desperately try to catch up to the backlog of surgeries created by the previous lockdown.
John Yip, CEO of Kensington Health, is part of a growing number of healthcare leaders in Toronto who believe there is a solution to surgical backlogs in Ontario, but it involves rethinking the role of hospitals during and post this pandemic. The focus of this initiative involves partnering with Independent Health Facilities in the community. For instance, healthcare facilities like Kensington Health have the ability to perform same-day, complex, urgent procedures like colonoscopy and cataract surgery that are primarily performed in hospitals, and they can do it often closer to home for the patient.
“Hospitals are doing everything – the small, medium, and big surgeries in a limited number of operating room’s. But why?” said Yip. “As we have witnessed first-hand at Kensington, hospitals can partner with Independent Health Facilities, and work with them to perform complex, urgent surgeries on healthy patients in the community.”
Kensington steps up
Kensington Health has gone above and beyond to reduce surgical backlogs caused by COVID-19, and to help expedite the treatment of patients currently waiting for eye surgery and screening procedures.
With a rigorous COVID-19 screening process in place for patients, the Kensington Eye Institute has extended its hours, opened on weekends, constructed new physically distanced waiting rooms, and is building a new operating room.
The team at the Institute has worked hard together to get back to 95% of their pre-pandemic case capacity, and the Ministry of Health has requested they perform an additional 500 procedures to help reduce the backlog of people waiting for cataract surgery.
“I continue to be inspired by the staff and how they’ve handled themselves during this tough time,” said Ann Whelan, (Director of Ophthalmology) “I overhear conversations between our staff and patients all the time, and our staff continue to try to calm our nervous patients, joke around with them to make them comfortable, provide a kind word here and there, and go above and beyond their call of duty.”
A huge thank you from Ann, Director of Ophthalmology, to her staff for taking extra time to make patients feel comfortable during COVID-19.
Across the hall from the Institute, the Kensington Screening Clinic is partnering with three academic hospitals in the GTA to reduce their backlog of colonoscopy cases. As one of the highest volume procedures performed in hospital, colonoscopies and screening take up a significant amount of time and space in hospitals. By partnering with Kensington, local hospitals will be free for more complex cases, while patients get the same high-quality care closer to home.
“Recently one of our surgeons said he couldn’t sleep because he knows there are people in Ontario who have colon cancer and are still waiting to be screened,” said Mary Morgan, Director, Kensington Screening Clinic. “Kensington is playing a role in getting more people in Ontario screened so they don’t miss out on necessary treatment.”
At the height of the first wave of COVID-19 in Toronto, the Kensington Screening Clinic remained open while other clinics closed to support patients needing infusion therapy for chronic illness like Crohn’s disease. “I am so proud of my staff who stepped up to support our patients during a very stressful time,” said Morgan.
As the pandemic unfolds, surgical backlogs are sure to be at the forefront of conversation in Ontario. Positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and surgeries may continue to be cancelled.
“The backlog is not going away anytime soon,” said Yip. “I am hopeful that by working with the Ministry and our local hospitals, we will be able to get creative to support the patients who need their surgeries.”