Are There Private Surgery Facilities in Canada?

If you have been told you need to have a surgery, the most common reaction is to have it done asap.  In Canada, most people have already been waiting quite a long time to know that they will need to have surgery.  Being told there is a long wait is not anything one likes to hear.

Will this ever change?  It is anyone’s guess.  New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has indicated he would allow patients more choice when it comes to private options.  This of course is quite a ways down the road.  With COVID added to the delays, it really presents additional challenges. 

Where Are The Private Facilities?

As of now, private facilities are very limited in Canada.  For instance, there are no known private surgical facilities within the Maritimes.  In all other provinces, there are a handful of private facilities, however, they are limited on what kind of surgery they can do.  For example, there are only a couple facilities that can do a knee and/or hip replacement.  None of the private facilities can accommodate over night stays.  The surgery would need to be on an outpatient basis, otherwise, you will have to wait and go through the system.  Not everyone is a candidate for an outpatient surgery so an evaluation needs to be done.

What Are The Rules For Going To A Private Facility?

Back in September of this year, British Columbia determined private facilities could no longer perform private surgery if you are a resident of BC.  This prompted closures and services offered to BC residents on a private basis to no longer exist.  They do, however, allow someone from another province to be treated at their facilities in a private manner.  In Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, the same rule applies.  The facility is not able to provide private services to residents within that province.  This is only for those procedures already covered by their provincial insurance. Things like dentistry and cosmetic surgery would not apply.  The only province we are aware of that can take residents within their own province is Quebec.  

This presents a challenge because it requires travel.  Not everyone is willing to and in COVID times, it can be tricky with constantly changing rules and gray areas.  If you’d like to know what your options are within Canada, please give us a call and we can help assist in finding a facility that can meet your needs.

There are also other private facilities for MRI and CT Scans  For more information on those, see our other blog post here.

Health Vantis


Snowbird Surgery

Snowbird Surgery

It is the time of the year that ‘Snowbirds’ start making their plans to travel south for the winter.   Most true Snowbirds own a second home/vacation home in the US.  Unfortunately, traveling for leisure is completely different this year in light of the COVID pandemic.  As of now, travel for leisure, even if you own a home in the US, is deemed non-essential. It is, however, considered essential if you are traveling for medical reasons. If you’ve considered having a surgery done privately, your winter trip can happen.  There will be many state and provincial regulations you have to abide by, however, it just may be the way to still get some of the sunshine you’ve been craving AND get you in a better, healthier place.

Benefits Snowbirds can still have if they schedule a private surgery:

  • You can recover in the comfort of your own home that you own in the US.
  • Most people who travel for surgery will stay an average of 5-7 days and then return to Canada.  Being local and having the ability to stay longer and do your follow ups in person is more optimal.
  • There is less risk to you for complications since you do not need to fly home right away.  Flying during COVID is more challenging with more hoops to jump through.  If you combine your surgery with an already planned trip to stay for a couple of months, that risk element is removed.  When the time comes for you to go back to Canada, you will likely be in a healthier place with more energy and the ability to do so easier.
  • By coming to the US, you may have access to treatment for procedures or surgeries that are not available in Canada.  There are many things unavailable to Canadians that are available in the US.  This would be an optimal time to explore alternative options.
  • There is convenience of already being in the area so you avoid an additional trip and expense.  If you combine your south of the border winter trip with a surgery, you will save money by not making a separate trip to do so.

Contact Health Vantis to connect you to an already vetted, safe and affordable facility in the area you are traveling.  We take the guess work out of finding the appropriate surgeon for your needs.

Health Vantis


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.

5 Tips While Flying During COVID-19

5 Tips If You Travel During COVID-19

Travel seemed to come to a complete halt a few months back due to the pandemic.  As restrictions have lifted and summer has arrived, people have started to slowly resume their willingness to travel.  While there is risk no matter what you do right now, traveling is one you can take a few extra precautions with to ensure you are minimizing your chances of acquiring COVID-19.

Check the local COVID-19

– All states, provinces and countries have varying restrictions right now.  Be sure to review their up to date policies on coming to their city/state/province or country before arriving.  You may be required to self quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or provide a negative COVID-19 test to enter.  Also take note of the rules your own state, province or country has on returning home.  Informing yourself about respective guidelines coming and going could prevent you from having to return home and keep you as safe as possible.

Driving vs Flying

– Many people are fearful of flying right now, however, per the US CDC, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.  The issue revolves around the ability to social distance, or lack there of.  There may be situations where it is a crowded flight and you are forced to sit next to someone less than 6 feet away from you that could be a carrier.  Taking a bus or driving can also pose increased risks.  There are still stops for food, gas and bathroom breaks that can put you in close contact with others and touching surfaces.  The key is to be aware of your surroundings, wear your mask and make sure you are washing or sanitizing your hands after you’ve touched public surfaces.

Anticipate Your Travel Needs

– Wearing a mask has been proven to help reduce your chances of getting or passing along the COVID-19 virus.  Make sure you have a mask with you at all times.  It is wise to bring a couple of extra ones in case you lose one or it gets dirty.  Having a few extra zip lock bags to store them in after each use will also keep them from being set down on a surface that might have germs.  Bring your own food and drinks when possible.  This will reduce contact with others in ordering.  Make sure you also have hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes for situations where soap and water are not available.

Hotels and Lodging 

-Review the hotels updated policies on how they are handling the cleaning of your room and their common areas.  Many places have suspended daily room cleaning unless requested and the majority of them have provided hand sanitizer every where you turn.  All major chains are taking extra precautions to sanitize your room, however, to err on the side of caution, take your own clorox or disinfecting wipes and clean all high touch surfaces such as door knobs, light switches and faucets for good measure.  You can always request a room that has been vacant for at least 24 hours.  Many hotels are not up to 100% capacity so this might be an easy request to accommodate.  Always wear your mask in the lobby and hallways as you are moving through the hotel, especially in the elevator.  Elevators are small spaces and someone who was not masked up could have coughed or sneezed prior to you coming on and the particles might still be in the air.  Only ride with the people in your party and wait for the next elevator should there be people you don’t know already in there.  This not only protects you, it also gives the other riders their own space.

Be Patient

– Public places have been given the burden of taking extra safety measures to keep their doors open.  This can create long delays or a situation of not having access to what you traveled there for.  Try to be as patient with the employees and delays as much as possible.  They are only doing their job to make things safer for you.  Give them an extra smile or a compliment of thanks or gratitude to show your appreciation of their extra efforts for you.

Health Vantis


Flying With Back Pain

5 Tips for Flying with Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common ailments people suffer from.  It can limit your activity level and make some things such as traveling difficult to do.  Sitting for long periods of time and lugging or carrying heavy items such as your baggage can be a deterrent.  Here are 5 tips to try so you don’t have to cancel your trip:

  1. Upgrade Your Seats

    – If you can afford it, consider booking a business class or first class seat.  Or, if you have the points, utilize them to upgrade.  This allows for more leg room and seat space.  You also don’t feel like you are crowded on top of the person next to you and will give you more room to move around within the seat.  Some airlines also have seats that are 1 step above basic economy that provide additional leg room for a smaller fee.  If extra funds are not available for the additional cost to upgrade, then request an aisle seat so you can easily get up and move around every so often.  It will make for stretching your legs easier and you won’t have to disturb your seat mate should you need to stand up.  You could also request an emergency row exit seat, assuming you’d be up for the task should there be a true emergency.  

  2. Take Steps To Manage Your Stress

    – Back pain already provides emotional stress.  It can make your symptoms worse if you are dealing with the stressors of traveling.  Find ways to reduce your stress by making sure you are packed well in advance prior to your flight so you are not rushing out the door.  Print off or download your boarding pass so you don’t have to stop at the kiosk.  Also allow for additional time in getting checked in to the airport.  Nothing proves to be more stressful than trying to rush to catch your flight.   

  3. Pack Light

    – Carrying on a suitcase is preferable to most people.  Lifting it over your head to get it in the overhead bin can be downright painful.  If you are unable to lift things due to your back issue, then consider checking your bag instead.  This will prevent any additional injury or strain on your back.  If that is not the best option and you really want to take a carry on, pack as light as possible and ask a fellow passenger or flight attendant to help assist you in getting it into the overhead bin.  If you only need a shoulder bag to carry on, consider a back pack instead.  This will evenly distribute the weight of your items as opposed to carrying it all on one side of your body.  

  4. Bring Comfortable Items

    – Although one tip to travel light is important, do not skimp on those things that will provide you with extra support and comfort.  Lumbar pillows or neck pillows are great for support.  These usually have loops on them that can be either clipped to your carry on bag or fit in a small purse or backpack.  Bringing an ice pack can also help keep your pain at bay.  You can always ask a restaurant or coffee shop within the airport for a small bag of ice.  Be sure to bring any medications you currently use for back pain or an extra dose of ibuprofen or Tylenol, assuming you are cleared to take those kinds of pain reducers.  Don’t forget your earphones to listen to soothing music, an e-book or relaxing movie to make the time pass quicker.

  5. Book a Non-Stop Flight

    – Non-stop flights are the best way to go, however, that is not always possible depending on your location.  If a non-stop flight is not available to your destination, then find a flight that has ample time in between to get you from gate to gate.  This will keep the stress levels down as well knowing you don’t have to rush to a gate to make the next leg of your flight.

These tips of course are just suggestions.  Always get advice from your doctor on how you can travel safely for what you are being treated for.

Health Vantis


Precautions Airlines Will Be Taking Amid COVID-19

Precautions Airlines Will Be Taking Amid COVID-19

The airline industry came to an abrupt halt back in March due to the pandemic.  As things slowly open back up, many people are still leery about flying as they do not want to expose themselves to the COVID-19 virus.  The airlines recognize this and have all started to implement more safety measures to reduce the chances of passing or acquiring the virus.

Many airlines have announced they will continue to block middle seats in rows where people are not traveling together.  On smaller planes they will block the isle seats.  Even with blocked seats, it is still difficult to remain 6 feet away from others.  Airlines, such as Jet Blue, are also requiring passengers ages 2 and older to wear face masks or scarves during the flight.

United Airlines announced a recent partnership with Clorox Co to enhance their cleaning processes.  They have also consulted with the Cleveland Clinic as to how best keep their passengers safe during their flight while the pandemic continues and are following their direction.

Before the flight, some airlines will provide you with a wrapped sanitizer wipe for you to clean your hands prior to boarding.  Air Canada announced they would be taking temperatures. The snack bags will also come with a sanitizing wipe and some airlines have discontinued beverage services on shorter flights.  Jet Blue will have your snack and a bottled water already in your seat on flights 90 minutes or longer.

Most check in counters now have sneeze guards, ie. plexiglass, between you and the airline clerk as well as touchless kiosks in select locations for baggage check in.  All crew and other employees are required to wear face coverings.  

The airline industry is such a vital part of most peoples lives and it appears they are doing what they can to make safety a top priority.  While the measures will not be 100% fool proof, it will certainly reduce your chances of contracting the virus while you fly.  

Health Vantis


Crossing the US-Canada Border for Medical Reasons

If you are travelling to the United States for a surgery or a medical procedure there are some things to consider and be aware of. Canadian citizens and permanent residents do not require a visa to enter the US. However, there are certain points to keep in mind.

  • Cannabis is illegal in the United States

This one is very serious. It is illegal to bring any cannabis or cannabis products into the US, including prescription cannabis, CBD oils and others.

  • State the reason for your visit clearly and do no make anything up

In recent years we have seen a slight shift in the amount of subjective authority the border officers are given to evaluate someone entering the US. If an officer detects you are not telling the truth even in the matter not relating to your trip, he or she can assume you are not being truthful in any of your explanations. So, speak the truth – always!

  • Have proof of financial support at home

We have seen clients turned away from entering the US because they could not verify that they are able to pay for their medical service in the US.  It can be interpreted that they can potentially present risks to become a burden to the already monetarily stressed healthcare in the US. This is a rare occurrence. However, it is helpful to bring with you a recent bank statement from your bank at home to show that you are able to pay for the procedure. This will help avoid any delays or appointments missed.

While these three things may seem trivial, they are sometimes overlooked. Hiring a medical facilitator will help you keep everything together and ensure that your medical travel goes smoothly and without any delays. Contact Health Vantis for your free evaluation, toll-free 1 877 344 3544.

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.

Health Vantis



Who Would Benefit From Medical Travel

Who Would Benefit From Medical Travel

Medical travel, otherwise known as medical tourism, has been around for many years.  Yet, it seems to have gained more popularity in the past decade.  There are many reasons as to why someone would travel for medical treatment but exactly who would benefit from medical travel?  The answer is if your quality of life has been hampered, you are unable to work, losing money as a result or the pain is unbearable, then you would benefit.  

Elective Procedures

In an urgent case, getting treated in a timely fashion usually happens.  When it does not involve a medical emergency, the provincial government heath plans consider these elective procedures and/or non-urgent.  It doesn’t mean that the provincial insurance won’t cover what you need to have done, in most cases, however, you may just have to wait.  When it involves something that creates limitations in your day to day health, then it sure seems like it is urgent.  Constant pain is physically limiting and distracting with difficulties in focusing .  This will create a decrease in your productivity or ability to work.   

In other instances, it could be a cost benefit for surgeries such as elective plastic surgery or dental procedures.  The cost for these surgeries is not covered by the provincial government health plans and can be pretty pricey to pay out of pocket.  Therefore, one may opt to have things done elsewhere.

Procedures Not Available In Home Country

Availability for cutting edge and newer techniques are not always a luxury we have access to.  In many situations, a more involved surgery might be determined solely on the fact that the surgeon doesn’t have the appropriate training or tools to do a less invasive type of procedure.  There are other cases where the procedure or technology is simply not available such as in a cancer case.  In these scenarios, it is prudent to research your options.  Getting a second opinion is the best way to navigate this and explore your options.  You just may find something you didn’t know existed and be a better treatment for you.

Health Vantis


Organ Transplants and Medical Tourism

Organ Transplants and Medical Tourism

From time to time we get calls and emails from individuals seeking organ transplants.  The requests not only come from Canadians but individuals from other countries looking to come to Canada or the US for the surgery.  Organ transplant cases are probably the most complex kind we could ever assist in because there are so many variables and factors to account for when making arrangements for such a surgery.

Black Market

For starters, we cannot help someone locate an organ for them.  This is actually illegal in all countries around the world, with the exception of Iran.  Despite these prohibitions, the trafficking of organs is still done globally on what they call the ‘Black Market’.  People are willing to sell their organ(s), such as a kidney, in exchange for money.  It’s pretty evident why this would and should not be allowed.  

Having A Match As A Donor

Some of the calls we’ve gotten are from individuals that have a family member that is a match for them.  In cases like this, we can help, however, the requirements and financial aspects of having it done privately can be quite stringent and cost prohibitive  For someone coming from another country to the US or Canada, certain requirements have to be met prior to a hospital even considering doing the surgery. 

The out of pocket expense to have an organ transplant surgery would start around $100K USD and go up.  The hospital would not only require proof of financial means to pay for the surgery through a verifiable source, but also need proof that the recipient has the financial means or insurance for the follow up care, which is life long, and very expensive.  In addition, they would require proper testing to have been done on the donor such as a physical exam, immunological tests, multiple lab and tissue tests, EKG, chest x-ray, psychological evaluation, urine samples and several others should the surgeon feel they are warranted.  The US & Canada also require a Visa to enter if you are from certain countries.  This would need to be approved in advance as well.

Being A Donor

Unfortunately, waiting for the appropriate organ can take several months to several years.  Not everyone is successful in finding a match.  One thing you can do to help contribute to those in need is to become a donor should you pass away unexpectedly.  The process for registering is very quick, simple and the database is connected nationally. 

There is also living donation should you be interested.  Living donors can give a kidney, bone marrow and partial lung, pancreas, intestine or liver.  This of course, is out of the goodness of your heart as you will not receive any kind of monetary incentive.  Things such as plasma and blood are also considered donations that are always needed.  For information on how you can be a donor, please visit: https://


Health Vantis