Nearly 40,000 surgeries for cataracts have been delayed since the start of the pandemic because of the ophthalmology relief, which could have serious consequences for some patients.
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“We took care of life, but we did not take care of sight,” says the president of the Association des médecins ophtalmologistes du Québec, Dr Salim Lahoud.
In Quebec, 110,000 procedures for cataracts are performed each year. But since March, the Dr Lahoud estimates that some 40,000 operations will not be carried out due to saturation in the health network.
This load shedding could have serious repercussions for many Quebeckers, most of whom are vulnerable seniors.
“The cataract will harden and become rigid. The risks of complications become higher. The quality of life in the meantime is very affected, especially when people have nothing else to do than read, listen to television or play on the tablet, ”explains the expert.
The private sector too congested
Camille Hudon, 89, from Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière in Bas-Saint-Laurent, is one of those impatiently awaiting this surgery. She learned last spring that she had to have eye surgery to regain her vision blocked by cataracts.
But she will have to wait at least three years, “if all goes well,” her daughter and caregiver, Liette Desjardins, was told.
Even their private request at the end of November still remains unanswered.
“It’s really paralyzed, even if we are ready to pay $ 7,000 to the private sector,” blows Mme Desjardins, who lives with his mother.
“I’m going to die blind! Repeats the octogenarian, whose vision continues to deteriorate.
Mme Desjardins is saddened by the state of his mother “who no longer reads now. She limits herself to watching TV, but she always sees confused ”.
“A large number of cataract surgeries have been postponed since the start of the pandemic, as have many non-emergency procedures,” confirms the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), Robert Maranda.
Hospitals have thus relieved certain operations to concentrate on “emergencies”, in order to free up hospital beds and relocate human resources to respond to the health crisis, specifies the MSSS.
“You might think that cataract surgery is not much, drop the Dre Marie-Josée Aubin, specialist at the University Ophthalmology Center at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, in Montreal. But these people are often blind and at risk of falling. There is also an impact on mental health. “
This is also what Mr.me Gardens. Her mother “is independent, she is sane, but she can no longer see. And if she falls, it’s fucked up. She will go to a CHSLD and we know what will happen … “
Lack of staff
“The reason why these surgeries are slowed down is because of the lack of nursing staff,” adds Dr.re Aubin.
And it’s not just surgical care that is falling behind, she says. Chronic eye disease treatments and diagnostics also suffer from overload.
“We come across cases where the glaucoma has progressed too much and the person’s condition is made irreversible,” says the ophthalmologist. And cases with a detached retina that presented themselves too late. The function of vision will not be recovered. “
– With Hugo Duchaine
The wait keeps increasing
The number of Quebecers waiting for an operation continues to skyrocket in Quebec since the massive load shedding started before the Holidays. Here is a portrait of the situation, even if the Ministry of Health maintains that it “does not have data on postponed surgeries”.
- More than 139,500 patients waiting an operation dated January 2 (10,000 more than the previous month)
- More than 46,000 people on the waiting list to Montreal
- At the end february 2020, more of 115,000 Quebecers were waiting surgery
- Number of people waiting for more than a year to go under the knife (elective interventions) has increased from 3,700 in March 2020 to more than 14,600 after the holidays. An increase of 300% in 10 months of pandemic
- The production of operating theaters for all of Quebec would currently be approximately at 50%
– With Geneviève Lajoie, Parliamentary Bureau
Source: Ministry of Health and Social Services