The Effects of Waiting for Surgery Amid COVID-19

The Effects of Waiting for Surgery Amid COVID-19

It has been reported through a recent study that over 28 million surgeries around the world could be cancelled during the 12 week peak of COVID-19.  It estimated an additional 2.4 million cancellations would happen for each extra week of shutdowns.  The backlog could take 45 weeks or longer to catch up.  This number could become longer depending on the length of time it takes for countries to open back up as well as a possible second wave this fall.

While the cancellations were necessary, they will have a substantial impact to the patient.  Anytime you delay a necessary surgery, you put your overall health and quality of life at risk.  This includes non-essential surgeries such as a hip replacement or spine surgery.   These may be deemed non-urgent, however, the more time that goes by before having a necessary surgery, the more likely you become disabled.  

Canada has always had a wait list for many kinds of surgeries.  The impact of the pandemic is still unknown.  We do know that it will likely create not only a financial burden, but could create increased health issues as well.

Some of the effects from waiting for your surgery in Canada can be:

  • Loss in wages.  It is estimated in Canada that prior to COVID-19, the amount of wages lost in 2019 was about $2.1 billion.  This equates to an average of $1,963 for each of the estimated 1 million + Canadians waiting for treatment.  With the shutdowns and delayed surgeries, it is now estimated this grows to $6.4 billion in lost wages or $5,972 per person.
  • Increased chance of making the medical condition or the injury worse. If a doctor determined surgery is needed for your condition, it is most likely the case.  Waiting to have the surgery varies greatly depending on what needs done.  Something deemed non-essential, such as an orthopedic surgery, can result in issues with long term, non-reversible effects if not dealt with in a reasonable amount of time.  
  • Increase chance of opioid dependency.  Being in pain can sometimes require a prescription pain medication.  While opioids have recently been limited, they are still being given on the short-term.  The longer you are on these, the higher chance you have of developing an addiction.  
  • Depression.  It’s safe to say that if you are in pain, your mood can change quickly.  Being in constant pain can not only drain your motivation and spirit, it can also cause you become immobile.  This is never good for your health, let alone mental health.  The frustration of not being able to feel well and inability to live your life as you’d like can cause you to slip into a depression.

If you find yourself in a position where you cannot wait any longer, give us a call.  We have several private options back open and available to do your surgery.  You can reach us at 877-344-3544 or

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Private Knee Replacement Cost

If you were put on a long wait list to get you knee replaced, and are exploring your private options, you are probably wondering if you can afford one. Many Canadians travel outside their province or country to get a surgery or procedure in a private manner, without the wait. Cost considerations are very important. Many will do the search on their own, contacting hospitals and surgical centres in the US and Canada. Often it takes some time and persistence to get a firm, bundled price.

Health Vantis takes care of all the logistics and planning of your medical travel for you. We established relationships with medical facilities in the US and Canada and are usually able to provide a range for the cost of your private knee replacement. We try to match up our clients with the closest facility to their home town, whenever possible. We do this so that the actual travel stays to a minimum and the flights do not exceed 4h, to reduce the risk of DVTs.

Price for your private knee replacement is important, but it should not be the only factor in your decision-making. Consider the reputation of the surgeon and the facility, as well as the number of surgeries performed by the doctor a year. Those numbers are important because the old saying “practice makes perfect” stands here as well. Although there is no magic number that make a surgeon proficient, 5 years of experience and at least 30 surgeries a year is a good start.

Health Vantis will provide you with the information about the surgeon and the facility prior to your decision to go ahead with the surgery. If you wanted to speak with the doctor, we can arrange that too. If you are contemplating a private knee replacement and need to know the costs and what is involved, give us a call toll free 877 344 3544 and we would be happy to help!

Is It Safe to Have Private Surgery at an Outpatient (Ambulatory) Facility?

Advances in surgical techniques and modern medicine allow less invasive, less cutting surgeries, and therefore faster recoveries. Many surgeries can now be done in an outpatient facility, or ambulatory surgical center. In fact, about 60% of al surgical procedures in the United States are performed as an outpatient surgery. After the surgery, you would stay for a few hours at the center, and then go home to continue recovery in a familiar setting and your own bed. But is it safe to do so?

The answer will depend on your general health and the type of surgery. The researchers identified seven main risk factors:

  • being overweight
  • being obese
  • obstructive lung disease
  • hypertension
  • past history of heart attack or stroke
  • previous cardiac intervention
  • prolonged operating room time.

If any of these apply to you, there should be a discussion with your doctor about having surgery at a hospital. This is true even if the surgery is considered low risk. Inpatient surgery will have you stay overnight and more, if need be. It is also suggested that being over 65 years old carries more risk, although age alone should not be used to qualify someone for an outpatient surgery.

All surgeries carry risk. Some have more than others. It is important to understand the potential risks of your particular surgery. Research suggests that certain procedures may be more problematic when carried out on an outpatient basis. Talk with your doctor about the risks involved.

If you are generally healthy, and your surgery is low risk, then outpatient surgical facility may be an option for your private surgery. A recent study published in The Spine Journal looked at insurance database for a single neck surgery – posterior cervical foraminotomy and looked at what the outcomes were. The groups were pretty comparable in age, gender and health conditions. Those that had surgery in the hospital had much higher rates of infections, wound complications, respiratory failure and urinary tract infection compared to those who had an outpatient surgery.

Some other important benefits of outpatient surgery are lower cost and recovering in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor should be able to identify if you are a good candidate for a private outpatient surgery. Most of the facilities we work with offer those with much success. If you would like more information, please contact Health Vantis at toll-free 877 344 3544.

5 Tips to Help with Exercise in Winter

We all know that winter and its colder temperatures can lead to hibernation moods.  Shorter daylight can bring about a lack of motivation to go outside for a run or drive to the gym. It is, however, very important to stay active in winter. In some parts of Canada winter last longer than some people would hope for, and the need to exercise does not diminish. Below are 5 tips to get moving in winter

  1. Bring your workouts indoor – get a gym membership. If a paid gym is out of the budget, set up a small area in your home where you can practice yoga, lift weights or follow an online workout class. All you will need is a yoga mat, your phone and a set of weights.
  2. Join your kids or grandkids in their outdoor play. Some fresh air and moving around is sure to follow!
  3. Dress according to the weather and go outside – walk your dogs, have a look around your neighbourhood, observe winter changes at a local park.
  4. Get a group of friends to commit to a winter exercise routine and motivate each other to stay on track.
  5. Embrace the winter! It gives us an opportunity to ski, snowboard, skate, snowshoe, walk (yes, it is still an exercise in winter!) Pick a winter sport you might enjoy and give it a try!

Do Cortisone Shots Posses Potential Dangers?

Cortisone shots have been used for decades.  In years past, it was thought that there was no real harm or risk involved in having a steroid injection.  There have always been side effects such as dizziness, headaches, trouble sleeping, mood swings, or weight gain but no long term effects identified.  According to a new report, cortisone injections may have more serious side effects than previously reported such as damage to the joints as well as other serious dangers.  

Steroid injections have effectively been used in treating conditions such as back pain, bursitis, gout, osteoarthritis, lupus and tendonitis.  Osteoarthritis (OA) alone affects nearly 5 million Canadians (1 in 6). When medications, physiotherapy and lifestyle no longer work, doctors will often try a cortisone injection to treat the pain.  Although this does not cure the problem, it can be a temporary fix to mitigate pain and swelling to avoid more extreme measures such as surgery.  It can also give you the opportunity to rehabilitate the affected area by reducing the swelling to allow for easier ability to strengthen the joint and surrounding muscles.  

Potential Dangers

Although cortisone has many benefits, there have been more recent concerns identified with regards to knee and hip osteoarthritis.  Some of those include: Rapidly progressive osteoarthritis, subchondral insufficiency ie. a type of stress fracture, osteonecrosis – when bone tissue dies, or causing a delay in surgery.  The study recently done could not provide an exact explanation why these things occur, however, it was thought that the anesthetic that is combined with the injection could be toxic to the cartilage.  More studies would be needed to understand the full effects.

The list of side effects from cortisone shots can be long and exhaustive, however, the advantages can be significant.  It is important to discuss all of the pros and cons with your doctor prior to having one, especially if they are required multiple times or if a surgery may be in the near future.  

Risk of Infection After Surgery

Risk of infection after surgery can be devastating and require further surgery or prolonged treatment.  Severe problems such as sepsis, organ failure and even death can occur if not treated quickly and properly.  While surgeons take thorough precautions prior to the surgery starting, our skin and environment contain millions of bacteria that can still cause an infection.  

There are many risk factors that can make you more susceptible to a post-operative infection:

– BMI > 40

– Smoking

– Poor Nutrition

– Diabetes

– Prior Surgery on the affected area

– Recent cortisone injection in to the joint within 3 month period

– Suppressed immune systems

– Open wounds or sores

– Steroids

Some of these risk factors can be changed or modified to reduce the chances of an infection occurring.  Ways to decrease some of these risks are:

– Smoking cessation

– Weight loss 

– Improved nutrition.  

– Skin preparation by bathing with a topical antiseptic beginning 3 days leading up to the surgery 

– Keeping the incision site clean and covered 

– No submerging the incision under water for the first 3 weeks or until your doctor has said it is ok

– Watch for signs of infection from the incision

– If prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take them as directed until they are gone

Most infections will start within 30 days of surgery.  Identifying the start of one and having it treated promptly could keep it from getting in the blood stream.  Bacterial infections can often be prevented with caution and care.  Reducing controlled risk factors prior to your surgery and following your doctors instructions will help keep chances of one starting to a minimum.

Pre-Op Testing – What Is Needed?

Once you make your decision to proceed with the surgery Health Vantis makes all the arrangements for you. One of the moving parts of preparation for surgery is pre-op testing. The requirements can be different, depending on the procedure you require and your individual health.

The two most common tests the doctors we work with ask our clients to complete is bloodwork and EKG. Blood work within the last 3 months prior to surgery is usually accepted. If more recent blood work is required, you can schedule a visit with your family doctor and ask for a requisition of what is needed. It usually takes a couple of days to get the results and those can also be picked up at your family doctor.

If you are over 65 and/or have high blood pressure or other cardiological issues, an EKG test is required. In most provinces, it is fairly easy to get. Again, this can be done through your family doctor.

If the results of the EKG are concerning, a cardiological clearance is required. This one is not as easily obtained as the EKG or blood work. Most of the facilities we work with can suggest a local cardiologist that can schedule a consult on short notice to accommodate your surgery date. The cost varies per doctor and location and will be communicated to you by Health Vantis upfront.

Sometimes, when there is a GYN surgery involved, the surgeon would like to see the results of the most recent PAP test. This is done to ensure the overall health of the client is acceptable for surgery.

If you are considering private surgery and have any questions, we are here to help!

Sports After A Knee Replacement

Sports After A Knee Replacement

Anytime there is an injury to a crucial part of your body, it is natural to be cautious even after a surgery to protect it.  It does not need to be the end of your active life by any means though.  Many times people do not realize they can go back to doing a sport after they have been properly rehabilitated.  A knee replacement is a great example of that.

The knees bear the weight of your body.  When there is osteoporosis, injury or too much weight on them, it can cause excruciating pain.  This might prevent you from doing a sport you love.  If a knee replacement is necessary, what happens after you have it?  Can you eventually resume your normal activities?

Most doctors would say yes and support you resuming your sports and activities. There is no reason why someone couldn’t go back to running, playing tennis or biking after the knee has been properly rehabilitated.  This of course needs to be done in a smart manner and always under your doctors supervision.  

Your ability to return to sports after a knee replacement will depend greatly on your general health as well.  The healthier you are, the higher chance you have of going back to playing the sport you did before.  Some low impact sports can be resumed within a 6-week time frame.  More active sports such as running or biking could take 12 weeks to 6 months before you are ready to resume.  The decision to start your sport back up again should always be discussed with your doctor first.

Health Vantis


Can Working Out in the Morning Offer Better Weight Loss Success

Can Working Out in the Morning Offer Better Weight Loss Success?

Working out in general is always going to be beneficial to your health.  But does it really matter when you work out as long as you do it?  A recent study suggests it’s possible that more weight can be lost if your work out is done in the morning.  

The International Journal of Obesity did a study in July of this year.  Subjects were allowed to visit the gym between 7a and 7p each day.  The people who worked out before noon had, on average, lost more weight than the men and women that routinely exercised after 3p.  Why is that?

It was noted that the early exercisers took more steps in total.  They were more active throughout the day than those who waited to exercise in the pm.  The amount of food eaten was on average less too.  Overall, the differences were small, however, they felt that cumulatively, it may have made a difference in how many pounds people lost.

Previous studies also suggest working out in the morning will kickstart your metabolism.  This aids in burning more calories throughout the day versus at night.  Doing your workout prior to eating your breakfast or while fasting will burn the fat stores instead of the carbohydrates you’ve consumed through food. 

While the claims are small, there is no doubt that exercise greatly aids in weight loss when done consistently with a proper diet.

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Medical Traveler’s Concern: Do People Die On The Operating Table?

With Medical Travel, people are often concerned about a possible surgery mishap.  It can be a scary process of going to another country and trusting a doctor you most likely haven’t met to provide you with a successful outcome.  One of the biggest misconceptions and fears is that you could die during the surgery.  Yes, that is certainly a risk, however, very uncommon.  Less than 1% of people will die on the operating table.  Most of the time the risk of death and complications occur after a patient is discharged to go home.

Post Operative Care

Preparing to recover after surgery is not just a mental thing to be ready for.  Probably the most important factor is how your after care is structured.  The 3 most common complications associated with death after a surgery are:  major bleeding, heart damage and infection.

Surgery causes an inflammation reaction in your body.  Immediately after surgery, you are most likely going to be on pain killers or Experal, an extended form of numbing medicine.  These drugs can sometimes mask a significant complication such as coagulation, which can lead to blood clots or heart failure.

Research shows that the postoperative care in a home setting is where the focus needs to be.  It is crucial that you have someone with you after surgery for a minimum of 24 hours. Forty-eight hours is even better to help you identify any signs of complications.  Listening to your body and doing exactly what the doctor has told you in your post op instructions is important.  Trying to do more than you are ready for, even at 5-6 weeks out, can cause a significant set back.

Surgery is a traumatic shock to your body.  It needs time to heal.  You might feel like you are ready to resume normal activities because you are experiencing little pain.  This is greatly in part to the pain killers you are most likely taking.  These mask the pain associated with your recent surgery.  Trying to do more than you are ready to because you ‘feel’ great or have a good day, prior to your incision healing, can cause bleeding and/or even re-injury.   


Sepsis is also a great concern.  Most surgeries are now done on an outpatient basis, which reduces your chance for infection.  However, that still doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  If you are traveling out of the US and Canada, the risk for antibiotic resistant infections is much higher.  To avoid this, verifying the hospital is JCI accredited will provide a piece of mind that their regulations are the same as those in the US and Canada should an infection occur.

Complications coverage is available if you wish to be protected in the event you do have a complication, even after you are back home in Canada.  You can find more information about it here.

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