Elective surgeries at the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) will be delayed effective May 3.

Dr. Neva Fantham-Tremblay, Medical Director of Surgery & Head of Service for Obstetrics and Gynecology at the NBRHC, says the move is being made to free up space for more COVID-19 patients from southern Ontario. 

“Nothing that’s a cancer or a possible cancer is going to get cancelled,” she confirmed. “Any surgery where we feel that the patient’s condition will deteriorate significantly in the coming weeks…those are the ones we’re planning on continuing.” 

Dr. Fantham-Tremblay says procedures like knee and hip surgeries are the ones that will be delayed.

The ramp-down is in response to the provincial order to do so in anticipation of more COVID-19 cases. Dr. Fantham-Tremblay says surgery capacity is still in “really good shape” but the hospital needs to free up manpower to treat more people. 

It’s not the first time the NBRHC has had to hold off on elective surgeries, with a similar order issued at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Dr. Fantham-Tremblay says the situation will be reevaluated every two weeks.

“Hopefully, we’re not looking at multiple months of close-downs here,” she noted.

The hospital currently has three COVID-19 patients from southern Ontario with another two scheduled to arrive by plane this weekend.