Gander hospital helping clear Eastern Health surgery backlog

The James Paton Regional Memorial Healthcare Centre is doing its bit to help, after the disruption of surgeries at Eastern Health hospitals in St. John's.

Central Health will assess situation daily to determine impact on resources

While it's difficult to predict the number of patients the James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre will receive, two operations went ahead on Thursday. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The hospital in Gander is doing its bit to help after the disruption of surgeries at Eastern Health hospitals in St. John's.

Joanne Pelley, director for surgical services at Central Health said all procedures will be performed at the James Paton Regional Memorial Healthcare Centre.

We will be debriefing and assessing each day.- Joanne Pelley

While it's difficult to predict the number of patients they will receive, she said, two operations went ahead on Thursday.

She added they will only be completing surgeries that require treatment due to an unstable bone fracture.

"We are completing those surgeries within our current capacity so that would include our team of orthopaedic surgeons, our anesthetists and our nursing personnel within our resources," Pelley told CBC. 

"At present there are no staff or additional physicians being brought in to complete theses surgeries."

Joanne Pelley is regional director of surgical services at Central Health. (Katie Breen/CBC)

More than 500 procedures have been cancelled in St. John's since surgeries were called down on Feb.12 because of stained surgical instruments.

The cause has since been determined to be mineral deposits traced back to water systems. 

At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Eastern Health officials provided an update on the situation, and said all elective surgeries will resume in St. John's on Monday.

However, stained surgical kits were still being found on Thursday.

Pelley said the number of surgeries is not an issue, and Central Health doesn't anticipate any impact on patients who are currently awaiting surgery. 

She said while the health authority accommodates additional in-patients regularly, and medically-stable patients can be transferred to other facilities within Central Health to meet their healthcare needs, the situation is being monitored.

"Every week we complete elective cases, local procedures and emergency or urgent cases so we would follow the same process for these cases as we would for our regular routine daily work," said Pelley.

"We will be debriefing and assessing each day … to determine any impact on our resources and our capacity to ensure that we continue to provide safe, quality care to people within the province."

Gander is only taking on extra surgeries from the Clarenville, Burin and Bonavista health centres.