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.

Can I Get a Private Surgery in Canada?

During the uncertain times of COVID-19 pandemic, we want to avoid travelling if we can. Elective surgery, diagnostic treatment such as EGM or MRI, and non-urgent cancer treatments have all been postponed back in March. Canadians have done a good job following the Public Health guidelines and the number of new cases and deaths is going down in all provinces. In May and June, as restrictions are being gradually lifted, those Canadians that experienced medical delays are eager to get timely access to their medical treatment.

We are getting quite a few inquiries about private medical care. The request is to stay as close to home as possible, and definitely stay in Canada. While some provinces have an easy drive into the US, with many private options available we are yet to help a client who will take this option up.

Most asked questions for us right now is – can I have a private option here, in my home town or at least province? Most private medical facilities are located in BC and QC. There are a few in between, such as ON, but ON private surgeries are covered by OHIP and are not available to ON residents.

We would be happy to help set up a remote specialist consultation or remote second opinion for you. We charge a small administrative fee for it and collect and transfer your medical records in a secure way.  If you would like to find out more information about private medical care available to you, please give us a call toll-free 877 344 3544.

Private Surgery After Covid-19

With medical wait times increasing for elective surgeries due to Covid-19 restrictions, some of you may be searching for information about your potential private options. Below is an update on what is being done or considered being done at the private surgical facilities we work with in the US.

As you already know, some of the southern United States lifted a number of restrictions. Depending on the state, many are resuming elective surgeries. Certain safety provisions and requirements must be met. Those are mandated by the state’s Department of Public Health.

Each facility we work with is accredited not only by the state (which is a requirement) but by another accrediting body in the US. We reached out to two of them, AAAASF (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities) and AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare) to ask what they have in place.

AAACH advised that they have a number of resources available to their members on their website, but that they defer to a state department of public health for further guidance on reopening as those will differ from state to state.

AAAASF offered a similar answer and added that they conduct onsite resurvey and that they ask all facilities in their resurvey year reopening to submit policies and procedures to ensure that all infection control and patient safety requirements are in place.

Health Vantis is keeping an eye on the states governments announcements and their public health departments directives. So far, we see that there are several things that are being mandated by each opening state, such as pre-op COVID testing requirement: negative Covid-19 test results within 48h or 7 days, depending on the state. Some require staff and doctors continuous testing as well.  Another one is sufficient supplies of PPE to be stocked at a facility and enhanced cleaning protocols.

We are also keeping in touch with all the facilities we work with so that we get pertinent information on their developments. It is not clear yet how soon we will be able to send someone for medical travel. In our next blog we will talk about when it will be safe to travel for medical reasons.

Meanwhile, there are certain things you are still able to do remotely:

  • Reach out to your physiotherapist or chiropractor to ask them what exercises you can do at home. If your condition changed, be sure to mention all the details.
  • If your condition worsens dramatically, contact your doctor to tell them the new information. Most family doctors are able to do a phone consultation or a virtual appointment.
  • Consider your private options for the future. By getting a medical records review done with Health Vantis you are not obligated to proceed. However, should you decide that your post-COVID wait time is too long, you will be ready.

When Is It Safe to Travel for Medical Reasons?

Just yesterday our top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that we need to approach opening the border with the US with extreme caution. If you are looking to get your surgery done in a private manner your choices of private medical facilities in Canada are limited. The closest destination is the USA.

Here are our considerations of why people may wait or may go to get their private surgery in the US. In this blog, we assume that there are no travel restrictions between the two countries. It may take a while to get there.

Before considering travelling for a private surgery one must consider travelling in general. It can be done by car or plane. Travel by car may be perceived as safer, as you are only sharing the space with 1-2 people.  Canadians will try to stay as close to home as possible, understandably so. There are just a couple of private surgical facilities in this country and we are keeping in touch with them to determine if and when they reopen, we can advise our potential clients. For now, we still offer second opinions, phone consults and review of medical records in a virtual or remote manner.

Travelling by air will require some assurance from the airlines that it is done in the safest manner possible. Transport Canada now requires that all guests have a non-medical mask or face covering during travel. Air Canada is implementing a plan to have mandatory temperature checks, more personal space, electrostatic cabin spraying, and PPE for its crew and customer service. WestJet provides seat distancing, fresh air into the cabin every 2-3 minutes and hospital quality filters, and limited food and beverage service.

Certain measures have to be in place from the hospital’s perspective to even consider doing private surgeries. Sufficient stocks of PPE, anaesthetic drugs, ventilators and COVID-19 pre-op testing are among the musts.

All the above listed are external reasons for a person to feel safe to be able to travel. There are internal reasons as well. Those are based on each individual particular situation and habits. It may depend on how severe your issue is and how long you are willing to wait. People that are more risk-takers will start travelling sooner. Those that are more averse to risk will stay and wait, monitoring news about medical travel and its results. Once there are a couple of successful travel cases, we will see more interest in travelling for medical reasons.

For now, we are still able to offer remote second opinions, consultations and review of medical records. Those action items can provide you with more information about your condition and will give you a head start should you choose to go the private route. For more information call us toll-free 877 344 3544.

How Long Will I Be Waiting for My Elective Surgery After Covid-19?

Many Canadians are asking this question. We deal with medical wait times even with no pandemics.  Now that all the healthcare resources are directed towards treating Covid-19 patients, rightfully so, those who had a surgery cancelled or postponed are facing a lot of uncertainty, more than ever. They are patiently waiting in pain to find out when they will be seen by a specialist or when their new surgery is going to take place.

So, how long? Here is what we know from the recent articles published in the media. This article states that after the SARS epidemic in Toronto in 2003 when elective surgeries were suspended for a number of weeks, it took months. It doesn’t state how many months or how many surgeries were postponed. CBC News estimated close to 100,000 patients had their surgeries delayed. Sounds like a lot, but we really can’t tell what that means in terms of catch up time. It is possible that hospitals are able to catch up quickly.

However, many news reports state the difficulties of reopening and all the challenges that may arise with its safe implementation. In this article, the issues of asymptomatic COVID cases, the availability of PPEs, anesthetic drugs and ventilators are raised. Most likely everyone scheduled for surgery will have to get a negative COVID-19 test within a certain time frame prior to the surgery. So that is an additional burden on the testing centers. What we see in the US, those states that are reopening their elective surgery require a negative test within 48h to 7 days, depending on the state.

Provincial governments and healthcare professionals are keenly aware of this situation. The process of addressing the wait times will have to be gradual. There is a potential, some say, inevitable, of the second wave of COVID-19. Our healthcare resources are tied. We have to be patient. That doesn’t mean just sit and wait. Here are some things you can do.

  • Reach out to your physiotherapist or chiropractor to ask them what exercises you can do at home. If your condition changed, be sure to mention all the details.
  • If your condition worsens dramatically, contact your doctor to tell them the new information. Most family doctors are able to do a phone consultation or a virtual appointment.
  • Consider your private options for the future. By getting a medical records review done with Health Vantis you are not obligated to proceed. However, should you decide that your post-COVID wait time is too long, you will be ready.

In our next blog, we will talk about private surgery after COVID-19.

If you have any questions regarding your private surgical options in other provinces or in the US, please reach out to us toll-free 877 344 3544.

Private Hip Replacement Cost

The wait times for a hip replacement in the public system can be long. Many Canadians do not wish to wait and are looking for private hip replacement options in Canada, US and other countries.  Cost considerations for a private hip replacement can lead to a long search on internet and phone calls to multiple places. Some medical facilities are able to give the pricing right away and some require multiple follow up and even then, it may not be possible to get the total price.

Health Vantis does all the logistical work for you, so you can focus on your health. We have established relationships with certain facilities in the US and Canada. We are able to provide you with a range for bundled pricing when you call. Bundled pricing includes the facility fee, anaesthesia fee and surgeon fees. Knowing the price for your private hip replacement is very important. However, price alone should not be the deciding factor in your decision where to go for surgery.

Things like surgeon’s reputation, facility accreditation and proximity to your home should be considered. If you are going to fly somewhere, make sure that you select flights that are 4 hours or less. Flights over 4hours increase the risk of DVTs considerably. It may be cheap to go to India, but you will be flying across the world.

In addition, pricing in Canada and the US can be comparable considering all the costs involved. Health Vantis works with accredited, pre-vetted facilities that offer safe and affordable private hip replacement. The price will differ depending on the location you chose to go to and will start at about CAD $25,000. *

If you are considering a private hip replacement, give us a call to get more information toll-free 877 344 3544.

*Prices may change without notice