Elective surgeries start resuming

By Evelyn Leckie

ELECTIVE surgeries will begin again in public and private hospitals across Victoria, following a slowdown of new coronavirus cases.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced on Wednesday the reintroduction of more category two and some category three elective surgeries across Victoria’s public and private hospitals from April 27.

The surgeries include IVF procedures, post-cancer reconstruction procedures, eye procedures and cataracts, endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures, some dental procedures, joint replacements including knee, hip and shoulder and screening programs for cancer and other diseases. It also includes all procedures for children under the age of 18.

Most category two and all category three procedures were put on hold last month to protect patients and workers and preserve personal protective equipment for the expected increase in demand in coronavirus cases.

Whittlesea resident Jan Karsten was scheduled for a hip replacement before elective surgeries were temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Karsten was due for surgery just before the restrictions were put in place, leaving him to take painkillers while he waited for the suspension to be lifted.

“I was happy to wait for the surgery as it was more dangerous coming into the hospital and potentially being exposed to the virus,” Mr Karsten said.

“I’ve been in a lot of pain, but I was very nervous to contract the virus – so I am happy to wait.”

Once Ms Mikakos made the announcement, Mr Karsten’s surgery was scheduled again for this week.

It is expected that up to 25 per cent of surgeries that had been put on hold will now recommence.

The government is investing $1.9 billion as part of its coronavirus health system preparedness response, including new equipment and additional PPE, including 151 million masks, 1 billion gloves and 27 million gowns.

“With Victorians doing the right thing and staying home, we’ve been able to slow the spread of the virus and carefully resume some elective surgery,” Ms Mikakos said.