KHSC to open new surgical unit

News / Surgical Care
By Christine Maloney

Fast tracking orthopedic and other short-stay surgery patients to this new unit will provide improved access to quality care

As part of the provincial government’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) will receive over $10 million in government funding to open a new inpatient surgical unit at the Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site.

“Increasing our hospital capacity in this way directly relates, and is essential, to our ability to perform planned surgeries,” said Dr. David Pichora, KHSC’s president and CEO. “If we don’t have beds in which to care for patients after surgeries, non-emergency surgeries cannot be scheduled.”

The first phase of development involves opening 19 beds on level 3 of the Johnson wing in the coming weeks to accommodate patients who have had joint replacements and other short-stay surgeries. The second phase will involve opening 12 more beds in the new year; for a total of 31 beds.

“In several weeks, every department at KHSC worked with impressive dedication to accomplish what would normally take many months,” said Dr. Pichora. “Everyone’s efforts are a true testament to their commitment to transform care together, to the benefit of our patients.”

The Extended Post-Anesthesia Care Unit at the HDH site will also expand from 12 beds to up to 24 beds to better manage the flow of patients, and accommodate patients who have had operations other than the current joint replacement and bariatric surgeries.

It is anticipated that these new beds will allow KHSC to continue to perform scheduled surgeries that may not otherwise happen if there was limited bed availability. They may also help to decrease KHSC’s need to once again ramp-down surgical activity should the second wave of the pandemic cause an influx of COVID patients needing hospital care or cause the need to quarantine units and thereby limiting admissions.

During KHSC’s mandated ramp-down of scheduled surgeries, between mid-March and the end of May, some beds that would have normally been used for planned surgeries were allocated to care for patients needing general medical treatment.

That change in bed allocation is helping with KHSC’s long-standing challenge of having the right number of beds at the right time to manage the increasing demand for acute inpatient care. Although, ongoing restrictions needed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic are making this issue more challenging.

Now that KHSC is in its fifth month of ramping back up its surgical and procedural activity, Renate Ilse, KHSC’s vice president of patient care, says “opening over 40 surgical beds will enable us to improve patients’ access to surgical care, invest in our existing infrastructure, and provide opportunities for our health care professionals.”

While urgent and emergency surgeries continued during the ramp-down period, just over 460 non-emergency surgeries were delayed at KHSC because of the COVID-19 pandemic.