More medical services will gradually resume at Grey Bruce Health Services sites following a provincial decision to lift some restrictions on hospitals.
The Ministry of Health issued a directive Tuesday to allow hospitals to gradually restart services that had been postponed due to COVID-19, including the resumption of non-urgent and elective surgeries, as well as diagnostic tests.
Grey Bruce Health Services president and CEO Gary Sims says now that the Ministry is easing restrictions, the hospital organization is looking forward to working with physicians to address the growing list of scheduled health care services that had been postponed.
"We will not return to full services immediately," Sims says in a statement. "Services will resume in phases over several weeks, and it will not be business as usual for some time."
A release from GBHS explains the gradual resumption of services will allow the hospital organization to ensure a number of provincial conditions are met as staff and physicians work to restore services.
Some of these conditions include: a sustained commitment to support long-term care, adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, enough supplies of drugs for surgeries, the ability to quickly reduce services if a COVID-19 surge occurs and options for delivering care in new ways.
Outpatient procedures such as endoscopies will resume in Owen Sound, Meaford, Southampton and Wiarton in the coming days. Grey Bruce Health Services also plans to open up additional operating room time in Owen Sound and Meaford. While diagnostic tests -- including CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds -- will begin to be rescheduled.
The hospital organization says only the most urgent cases will be scheduled first.
"Patients will hear directly from their surgeons' office about their new appointment times," a release from GBHS explains.
Grey Bruce Health Services stresses the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in its hospitals is very low. The latest patient to be treated with the virus in hospital was discharged in mid-April.
However, several precautions remain in place to ensure patient and staff safety at hospitals. All individuals coming into a GBHS hospital are encouraged to bring their own mask, and those who arrive without one will be given a disposable mask to wear.
Visitors at GBHS hospitals are still prohibited, while patients are asked to attend alone unless they require support.