An Edmonton family is frustrated after their father’s surgery was cancelled just moments before it was supposed to begin.
It’s the latest story of an important procedure being postponed as Alberta hospitals deal with overwhelmed ICUs because the number of COVID-19 patients is climbing.
Ed Mason, 75, showed up bright and early at the University of Alberta Hospital on Thursday for his scheduled surgery.
“It was 5:40 a.m., he was checked in, he had blood work, he had pre-op vital signs, he was in his gown,” Ed Mason’s daughter Shawna Lough said.
Mason then spent the next few hours preparing for his 10-hour skin graft surgery. The procedure would transplant skin tissue from his arms to his head.
It would cover up bone that was exposed after cancer radiation treatment damaged the area, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
“The anesthesiologist resident came in and said, ‘Everything looks great. We’re going to see you in just half an hour or a few minutes,'” Lough said.
But instead of getting started, Lough said a different hospital staff member came in the room with some alarming news.
“ said that there was no ICU bed available and also that there was no critical bed available for him to use if something went awry in his surgery. Therefore, his cancer surgery to rebuild his flap was cancelled,” Lough said.
Lough said the surgeons tried to get Mason’s procedure to go ahead but it wasn’t deemed urgent enough.
“Right then, he was told to get dressed and go home,” Lough said.
Mason is one of dozens of Albertans left waiting.
In a statement to Global News, Alberta Health Services wrote: “We understand that having a surgery postponed is very challenging for our patients and their families, and we apologize for the additional stress that this causes. Alberta Health Services does not take the decision to postpone surgeries lightly.”
“In these extraordinary times, AHS has had to make significant changes to the way we deliver health care… We will reschedule patients as soon as possible based on hospital occupancy,” it said.
“This is isn’t just happening to individual families here and there and patients here and there; it’s happening to many people across the province right now,” Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology president Reanne Booker said.
Booker said she expects things will get worse in the coming weeks and that families need to stand by their loved ones.
“Many others are experiencing physical pain. The other piece of that too is the psychological impact,” Booker said.
Booker said if more Albertans don’t get vaccinated and are not careful, it’s likely hospitals beds won’t open up.
As for Lough, she said the family will continue to support their father and hopes his much-needed surgery will be rescheduled soon.
Mason worked for decades as a radio broadcaster at 630 CHED in Edmonton, which is owned by the same parent company as Global News. He retired several years ago.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.