‘My life is on hold’: Patient and doctors respond as Calgary hospitals cancel elective surgeries

Elective surgeries in Calgary have been postponed or canceled to create intensive care capacity in hospitals as COVID-19 cases increase – leaving patients on hold and worried about the future.

One of those patients is David MacLeod, who was scheduled for aortic valve replacement this week.

“My surgery is listed as urgent. I don’t understand people talking about elective surgery. It is not elective surgery.

“Until then, my life is on hold.”

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has announced it will delay and cancel some surgeries in the province, redeploying staff to intensive care and intensive care beds in the area. Urgent and emerging procedures and priority cancer surgeries will continue.
David MacLeod was due to have heart surgery this week. (Provided by David MacLeod)

Without the surgery, MacLeod says he can’t live his life normally, do the activities he loves and have his whole family on hold.

“This operation, they stop your heart for it. It is not cosmetic surgery, it is serious business. Obviously there is a tribute for my children who are worried about me, my wife is worried. for me, ”he said.

MacLeod has not been told when his operation will be rescheduled. The longer he waits for the procedure to be done, the more likely he is to need an invasive procedure, he says, which would make recovery much more difficult.

Surgeries are sometimes canceled to make way for more urgent surgeries, says Calgary heart surgeon Dr. Paul Fedak. But not to the extent that it is happening now. He doesn’t know when doctors will be able to start operating on those who have had surgery again, and as the delays get longer, he’s becoming increasingly concerned about patients who are waiting.

Calgary cardiac surgeon Dr Paul Fedak says making phone calls to patients to tell them their surgeries have been delayed is “absolutely brutal.” (Audrey Neveu / Radio-Canada)

Fedak says making phone calls to patients to tell them their surgeries have been delayed is “absolutely brutal.”

“It’s hard on everyone, we mean families, we mean patients. You have to think about when you have open heart surgery, how much mental stamina it takes to come to the clinic. surgery… you’re putting your life in danger, ”says Fedak.

“These resources are now dedicated to COVID care, and we are striving to provide the care that needs to be provided,” says Dr Dan O’Connell, neck and throat surgeon in Edmonton.

“Chaos is the best way to describe it,” says doctor

Administrators are doing their best to allocate resources, O’Connell says, as healthcare workers are overworked and unable to manage much more.

“Chaos is the best way to describe this influx of COVID patients… you have these hundreds of patients in the hospital taking beds away from normal surgical allowances,” he says.

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