Surgical Services

Going for surgery can be a stressful time. We do our best to make your stay at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre as safe and comfortable as possible. We encourage you to take an active role in your health as well. The Surgery Admission Booklet can help you and your family understand about and plan for your stay for surgery at the Health Sciences Centre.

Educational Videos

In addition to what you learn from your health care team, we have videos available for you to watch to prepare you for your upcoming surgery.

You’ll find them at the bottom of this page, under “Resources”. These videos are available for all surgery patients and their families to watch from any internet-connected device.

Pre-Admission Clinic

The Pre-Admission Clinic prepares patients for surgery. Support includes information about the surgery, answering questions from patients and family members, and ensuring the patient is medically fit for surgery.

For more information, read about the Pre-Admission Clinic here.

Planning For Your Surgery

It helps to do some advance planning before your surgery to help things run as smoothly as possible for you and your family. Here are some things to think about:

  • Notify friends and family who should know about your surgery
  • Plan a ride to and from the Health Sciences Centre; please be ready to leave by 11:00 am on the day of your discharge
  • If you are being admitted as an inpatient for your surgery and staying at the Health Sciences Centre for one night or more, pack personal items including grooming items (toothbrush, hair brush, etc.), glasses or contacts, medical assist devices (hearing aids, dentures, etc.), and a book or other activities
  • Bring a clean, reusable bag to put your belongings in
  • Have all required forms in order (most or all will be taken care of during your Pre-Admission Clinic appointment, but you may be required to bring some forms the day of your surgery)
  • Make sure you have your health card available

Day Before Your Surgery

Getting ready for your surgery is an important part of making sure the surgery and your recovery go well.

  • It is important to clean your skin as well as possible to lessen the chance of infection. Take a shower or tub bath using chlorehexidine soap (i.e. Dial) the night before AND the morning of your surgery. Cleanse the area where you have having the operation by rubbing it with soapy water for 5 minutes. Rinse and dry well.
  • Remove nail polish, makeup, and all jewellery including body piercings
  • Sleep is important before surgery, so go to bed in plenty of time to get a full night’s rest
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your operation
  • Do not drink alcohol for 48 hours before your surgery as this could increase your risk of bleeding as well as other health risks
  • Do not smoke after your evening meal the night before surgery as this can cause more secretions in your lungs, leading to breathing problems after your surgery
  • Follow the instructions your doctor gave you about taking any medications on the day of your operation. If you are to take any medications you may do so with a sip of water. (Tell your nurse which medications you have taken when you arrive at the Health Sciences Centre.)
  • If you develop a fever, cold, or flu-like symptoms before your surgery, please call your surgeon before coming to the Health Sciences Centre
  • Arrange for a ride to and from the Health Sciences Centre; please be ready to leave by 11:00 am on the day of your discharge

Day of Your Surgery

Most of the details of your surgery including report times and location will have already been taken care of during your Pre-Admission Clinic appointment and other appointments with your surgeon and primary care provider. Very little has to be done on the actual day of your surgery except to ensure that all jewellery, nail polish, and makeup is removed, and you have washed with chlorehexidine soap (i.e. Dial).

During your Pre-Admission Clinic visit, you will be given information about when and where to go on the day of your surgery. Generally speaking though, if you will be admitted as an inpatient after your surgery, please register at Admitting before coming to Surgical Day Care. For outpatient surgery (i.e., you will be discharged on the same day of your surgery), and your appointment is after 7:30 am, you may come directly to Surgical Day Care. If your outpatient surgery appointment is before 7:30 am, please register at Admitting.

While you are in surgery, family members and loved ones can wait in the OR Waiting Room. An OR Status Board keeps them up-to-date about when you are out of surgery and in the recovery room. There is also an OR Liaison Volunteer in the waiting room who acts as a communication link between families and friends and the Recovery Room staff. The volunteer will help keep you updated on the status of your loved one, and is available to answer questions.

After Your Surgery

Those undergoing outpatient surgery will be discharged the same day after a short recovery period (this period varies depending on your condition – please refer to the Surgical Day Care Patient Information booklet for more information). Please make sure you arrange for a ride before you come in for surgery.

If you require multiple days for recovery, you will be admitted to one of the surgical inpatient units, 3A, 3B, 3C, or Neurosurgery. All of these units are located on the third floor (for more information about inpatient surgery, please refer to the Surgery Admission Booklet).

Recovery is of course a big part of surgery, and you can actively participate in helping yourself get better. Your surgeon/healthcare team will have information for you about medications, wound care, and other important parts of your recovery. Arrangements for home care, if needed, and follow-up appointments are usually given to you before you are discharged.

  • Understand and follow your surgeon’s instructions, and ask questions if you don’t understand
  • While at the Health Sciences Centre, your nurses and other healthcare professionals (as needed) will help with your recovery, including any specific treatments prescribed or recommended by your surgeon
  • Part of these treatments may be exercise, physical therapy, or other activities
  • You may be on a restricted diet after your surgery as well, so always discuss any “outside food” with your nurse
  • Please discuss with your nurse before bringing pets to a surgical inpatient unit
  • If you have any questions about your care, any problems managing your pain or wound care, or any other concerns at all, please talk to your nurse
  • For inpatients, please be ready to leave the Health Sciences Centre (including arranging a ride with a family member or other loved one) by 11:00 am on the day of your discharge

Visiting Hours for Inpatients and Other Common Questions

  • Posted visiting hours are between 11:30 am to 8:30 pm. However, your care team recognizes that every person is different, so these hours may be adjusted to better fit your needs. We ask that all visitors be respectful of their loved ones’ need for rest after surgery, be respectful of other patients around them, and that no more than two visitors be in the unit at one time.
  • Telephone and TV service is available – please ask the ward clerk or your nurse for details
  • Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside the Health Sciences Centre or on the grounds
  • WiFi is available – please ask the ward clerk or your nurse for details
  • Cell phones are permitted, though we ask that you be respectful of other patients around you by putting your phone on vibrate, keeping the volume low or off (headphones are encouraged), and talking quietly
  • Electronic devices in general are permitted, though we ask that you be respectful of other patients around you by keeping the volume low or off (headphones are encouraged)

If you have any questions during your stay at the Health Sciences Centre about your care or any aspect of the facility, please ask your nurse or surgeon. A whiteboard will be next to your bed where you can write down questions as they occur to you.

Click here to download a complete copy of Surgery Admission Booklet. One will also be given to you at your Pre-Admission Clinic.

Quick Reference Checklist

What to Bring/Arrange

  • Health card
  • Personal items (slippers, clothes, medical aids, etc.)*
  • Ride to and from Health Sciences Centre
  • Book/activities*
  • Clean, reusable bag

*Please note that the Health Sciences Centre is not responsible for lost/stolen items.

What to Leave at Home

  • Valuables (jewellery, watches, etc.)
  • Medications (unless instructed to bring them)


Educational Videos for Your Upcoming Surgery

In addition to what you learn from your doctors and nurses, the videos below are available for you to watch at home. These videos will prepare you for your upcoming surgery. You can share the videos to your family or care partner to watch as well. You can hit the “cc” button on the video to see subtitles in other languages. Please note, there is a survey to complete at the end of each video. If you need help watching the videos please contact your health care team.

Scheduling Your Surgery

Consenting for Your Surgery

Getting Cleared for Your Surgery

General Instructions for Your Upcoming Procedure

What to Expect After Your Surgery

Preparing for Going Home After Surgery

Common Misconceptions About Surgery

Download the SeamlessMD App for Your Surgery

What to Expect on the Day of Your OP Procedure

What to Expect on the Day of Your IP Procedure