Ottawa hospitals working to clear backlog of 15,000 to 17,000 surgical procedures

OTTAWA — The head of the Ottawa Hospital expects it will take Ottawa-area hospitals between four and 12 months to clear a massive backlog waiting for surgical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ottawa Hospital CEO Cameron Love tells Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron that the hospitals are currently dealing with a backlog of 15,000 to 17,000 procedures.

“Depending on the service, we’re running at sort of 110 to 120 per cent and we’ll continue to keep doing more and more surgery to make sure we catch up on that backlog,” said Love on Wednesday.

Love says the Ottawa Hospital and other hospitals in Ottawa continued to prioritize surgery to make sure cancer surgeries and time sensitive procedures were never delayed.

“The ones that tended to be impacted; if you take things like cataracts, which is less severe than a cancer case, those ones may have been prolonged so we’ve ramped back up,” said Love.

“We’re probably in the range of six months to catch up on that cataract backlog. It varies by service. It’s somewhere probably between four and eight, ten to 12 months, depending on the procedure that we’ll catch back up.”

Love says hospitals plan to hire more staff and open more operating rooms this spring to try and clear the backlog for surgery.

“When we move into April, we’ve got another plan where we’ve hired more staff, we’re going to open up more OR time and we’ll start to catch back up,” said Love.

The Ottawa Hospital estimates there is a backlog of 24,000 women waiting for breast screening during the pandemic.

The hospital stopped breast cancer screening at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 for three months while it assessed the guidelines needed to safely provide screening.


The 15,000 to 17,000 surgical backlog represents the surgery backlog at all Ottawa area hospitals, not just the Ottawa Hospital.

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