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ORs may be ready again Friday

St. Boniface Hospital officials optimistic as repairs continue

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Officials have their fingers crossed surgeries in all 14 operating rooms at St. Boniface Hospital will resume as early as Friday.

Repairs to the operating rooms' heating and ventilation systems -- and to water-damaged areas as a result of cracked heating coils -- are all but complete.

Flooding in Sask. OR

SASKATOON -- One operating room is closed and pediatric outpatient services have been moved at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital because of flooding.

The Saskatoon Health Region says a pipe burst around midnight Sunday and the rupture caused flooding in several areas, including the pediatric outpatient area and the coronary care unit.

Some patients in coronary care have also been moved to other areas of the hospital.

The region says most procedures will still go ahead, so people should go to their appointments unless they've been contacted by the hospital or their surgeon.

It is not yet known how long the clean up might take.

The region also says staff are assessing any potential risks for the spread of infection.

-- The Canadian Press


Crews are now cleaning the affected areas and testing the ventilation system to make sure the air is safe so surgeries can resume. Operating room equipment that had been removed while repairs were carried out will have to be returned.

"We have made fantastic progress from where we were last Wednesday," said Stephen Cumpsty, director of capital and property management at the hospital.

Early Wednesday morning, the heating and ventilation systems in the hospital's operating room areas failed. Only two ORs were in use at the time. Water-filled coils that control the temperature of rooms froze and cracked when exposed to cold air. The coils began to leak when the heat came back on. Fortunately, most of the 26 coils that burst were located above hallways and ancillary rooms, limiting water damage to the ORs themselves.

Dr. Brock Wright, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's chief medical officer, emphasized the Friday timeline is a best-case scenario.

"That assumes that everything happens with no complications, and so far things have happened exactly as predicted," he told a media briefing Monday.

On Friday, the WRHA said it was cautiously optimistic the operating rooms at Manitoba's second-largest hospital could be functioning once again in one to two weeks.

Officials originally worried the ORs would be down for months. However, they found the heating coils could be quickly repaired -- they will eventually be replaced -- and water damage to drywall and ceiling tiles was less extensive than feared.

Wright said more than 200 elective or scheduled surgeries will likely have been postponed by the end of the week. He vowed those surgeries will be rescheduled as soon as possible on a medical-priority basis. Some of them already have been.

Some cancer and vascular surgeries will likely be done first. "It's a bit of a judgment call, and we will rely on the surgeons themselves to make that assessment," Wright said.

He said to clear up the backlog, weekday surgical hours will be extended, and more operations will be scheduled on weekends. Other hospitals may also pitch in.

Wright said a limiting factor may be the number of hospital beds available to accommodate the additional surgeries.

St. Boniface hospital has about 20 per cent of the surgical capacity in the city. Currently, other hospitals, primarily Health Sciences Centre and Grace General Hospital, have been handling urgent and emergency surgeries that would have been carried out at St. B.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2014 B1

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