ST. Boniface General Hospital has cancelled all surgical procedures for the rest of the week after a number of its operating rooms were flooded Wednesday morning.
The problem began when air exchange units that circulate oxygen to the 14 operating rooms failed, causing some water pipes to freeze and then "blow up."
"We had significant flooding into our operating room areas," said Wendy Rudnick, executive director of clinical programs and chief nursing officer at St. Boniface.
Only a couple of the operating rooms were in use when the initial problem was first detected at around 6:30 a.m. No patients were in harm's way when the flooding started less than five hours later, she said.
The damage is limited to the operating room area and does not impact the hospital's emergency department, its cardiac capacity or its in-patient operations.
Other hospitals, particularly Health Sciences Centre and Grace Hospital, have cancelled some of their elective surgeries to increase the city's capacity for urgent and emergent procedures, said Brock Wright, senior vice-president and chief medical officer for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
"All the hospitals within the region will feel the effects of this particular incident," he said.
About 20 surgeries were cancelled on Wednesday at St. Boniface and between 20 and 30 have been cancelled on both Thursday and Friday. Wright said it's too early to tell when the damage will be repaired.
"All of us want to have those operating rooms up and running as quickly as possible. We're definitely talking days but it could be longer," he said.
Wright said he understands many patients awaiting elective surgery have been waiting for a long time and he wanted to assure them his team will work hard to accommodate them as soon as possible after the situation at St. Boniface returns to normal.