Will You Travel for Private Elective Surgery?

It has not been easy for many people all over the world to adapt and live with the new virus, COVID-19. In Canada, medical wait times for certain elective procedures were long even before COVID. In March, when all elective surgeries were cancelled or postponed, it is reasonable to think that the list is getting even longer and people’s surgeries are pushed even further away.

Canada provides universal healthcare. There are oftentimes very few options to get surgery in a private, and timely, manner. Usually, Canadians travel to get their treatments elsewhere. During the global pandemic, a decision to travel outside of your local area may be a difficult one to make.

Many Canadians seeking private elective surgery or diagnostic would like to get it in Canada. Options here do exist, but the list of surgeries and geographical locations are not very many. In the past, travelling to the US was an obvious choice. However, with borders between the two countries being closed to non-essential travel, many think it is not possible and is too dangerous, due to the number of COVID infections in the US.

Travelling for medical reasons is considered essential by the US government, so a Canadian coming for surgery will be allowed to cross the border and get a private surgery or treatment. All the medical facilities in the US take every necessary precaution to reduce the possibility of COVID spread.

The choice to travel for medical reasons is a very individual one. It will depend on your overall health, age, a medical condition you are travelling for and your overall risk tolerance. Health Vantis can help answer some of the questions you may have. We can also arrange for a phone consultation with a doctor so that all the medical concerns are answered in advance. Give us a call toll-free 877 344 3544.

Airlines Safety Measures, an Update

Travelling by air nowadays can be perceived as unsafe due to potential exposure COVID-19. However, if you have to fly, we prepared a short summary of 5 airlines.  We looked at 2 Canadian airlines – Air Canada and WestJet and 3 US – United, Delta and American to give you an update on safety measures put in place.

When we wrote our first blog on airline safety back in June, blocking the middle seat was being done. Now that it is September, the airlines are no longer doing this. WestJet even issues a special statement about it. So, what is being done to ensure passenger and crew safety?

Across the board all five airlines have these measures in place:

  • Mandatory mask or face coverings
  • Hospital-grade HEPA filters on aircraft (remove 99.99% of all airborne particles)
  • Enhanced screening for symptoms
  • Plexiglass shields in the lobby and check-in
  • Contactless check-in
  • Enhanced cleaning protocol at all stages of air travel – in the airport, at the check-in counter, boarding area, aircraft and luggage pick-up area
  • Boarding is modified to allow fewer people at a time and with clearly marked social distance

Additional measures put in place by Transport Canada is temperature checks at all major airports in Canada. Air Canada and WestJet perform infrared temperature checks and those with elevated temperature will be denied boarding and will be given an opportunity to re-book the air travel in 14 days. If your temperature is elevated due to a non-COVID reason you must present a medical certificate stating those reasons.

If a customer refuses to wear a mask, the plane can not depart. There have been instances in both US and Canada where flights were cancelled, or airport security was involved in resolving a conflict. WestJet even puts these non-compliant customers on a year ban list with the airline. They also implemented the mandatory sharing of guest contact information. Such measure will help Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial health authorities track transmission chains should a passenger later test positive.

Air Canada introduced Virtual Queuing to minimize check-in wait times and contact at certain counters. Customers can scan their boarding pass to enter a virtual queue and are notified via smartphone to proceed to the counter for assistance.

United Airlines and Air Canada can notify their customers if their flight is getting close to full and provide them with an opportunity to re-book a less full flight with no charge.

To encourage Canadians to travel abroad, Air Canada is currently offering a complimentary Manulife COVID-19 emergency medical and quarantine insurance for all its new bookings made from September 17th, 2020 until October 31st, 2020. Travel must be complete by April 12, 2021. More information about the eligibility can be found here.

United Airlines added an option of VIP bag delivery. For a small fee, a traveller can avoid luggage pickup that potentially can have a lot of people and have their bags delivered within 100 miles of the airport. They are also in the process of rolling out antimicrobial technology, NovaRover, on all aircraft to add an additional layer of disinfectant on board.

American airlines are seeking Global Biorisk Advisory Council (BGAC) STAR accreditation to ensure they have proper procedures to respond to biological threats like COVID-19.

As you can see, airlines are continuing to put a lot of efforts in making air travel safe again.  As information about COVID-19 evolves and we learn more, airlines will also respond.

Travel Insurance and Medical Complication Insurance – Which One Will You Need?

Many countries opened their borders to Canadian travellers mid to end of summer 2020. And even though the US-Canadian border still stays closed to all non-essential travel, travelling for medical reasons is considered essential by the US government. Many Canadians are at least starting to think about travelling. Getting proper insurance for your trip is very important, especially during the pandemic.

If you are travelling for pleasure, then you probably want to have COVID-19 covered in your out of the country insurance. We read here that it is now possible for Canadians. Asking specific questions about coverage is more important than ever.

If you are seeking medical care in the US and would like to make sure that you are covered by insurance, then you will need entirely different travel insurance. It is called medical complication insurance and it will cover you in case something does happen during or after your medical procedure. We offer an application to it on our website. If you are curious what coverage may cost, you fill out the form and the answer will be given shortly. Please note that Health Vantis does not get any commission from the insurance company.

Travelling during COVID-19 will be tricky and your personal health and risk tolerance will matter in making your decisions. If you need help determining whether or not you are suited for medical travel, give us a call toll-free 1877 344 3544.

Private GYN Surgery During COVID-19

The pandemic put many Canadians on a longer surgical waitlist. Among those are women waiting for an elective GYN surgery such as hysterectomy. The procedure can be approved for many reasons among them are endometriosis, uterine fibroids and uterine prolapse.

Unfortunately, there are no private options for GYN surgery in Canada. Health Vantis can assist with finding a private GYN surgery option in the US. During the pandemic, of course, travel should be reduced to absolute necessity. The US considers travel for medical reasons essential. Your decision to go or wait will depend on your level of discomfort and ability to take additional risks of travelling during COVID 19.

Surgical facilities in the US are taking many precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Patients, medical personnel and staff and visitors (if allowed) go through screening. In most cases, surgical candidates require a negative COVID test 24-72h prior to surgery. They are asked to self-isolate after the test.

To minimize the number of people at the facility and avoid full waiting rooms, appointments are spaced out. If visitors are allowed, usually only one family member or caretaker, must wear masks and be screened prior to entry. Waiting rooms, exam rooms and all the equipment are cleaned after each patient.

All medical personnel and staff get screened for COVID symptoms every day and are not allowed to work if they have any symptoms. They all wear PPE.

If you are considering travelling for your private GYN surgery, we can help. Contact us toll-free 877 344 3544 for more details and information.

Elective Surgery During COVID-19 – Yes or No?

How do you determine whether to proceed or wait with your elective surgery during COVID-19 pandemic? There are many things to consider. Among them are your overall health and age, and if the outcome of your surgery would be the same if you were to wait a few months.

If you are a relatively young person and your overall health is good, your risks are lower. If you have been waiting in pain and experience a decrease in function and ability to work or play at your desired level, then you may want to go ahead and proceed with the “elective” surgery sooner than your waitlist tells you.

Keep in mind that some surgeries, even though called elective, may need sooner attention. For example, some injuries can become worse over time, and instead of having a repair, as initially indicated, it can turn into a more complex surgery, such as reconstruction. Your level of functioning and comfort has to be considered.

Safety during the pandemic is also a concern. To ensure safety during COVID 19, medical facilities and surgical centres are taking extra precautions to protect their patients and staff. Face mask, hand washing, extra cleaning, pre-op COVID screening and testing are in place to prevent exposure.

Public Health officials are warning Canadians that COVID-19 may be with us for the next 1 to 3 years, and we will have to learn to live with it. Many people would not like to wait that long for their surgery to take place. If another spike occurs, the waitlists will get even longer.

If you are considering going the private route during these uncertain times, we are here to help. Give us a call toll-free 877 344 3544 to see what your private options may be here in Canada or in the US.