Nova Scotia

COVID-19 sidelines elective surgeries at QEII in Halifax

Nova Scotia Health said Friday in a news release that surgeries at the QEII would be limited to 'day surgery procedures, time-sensitive cancer, and non-cancer same-day surgeries.'

Nova Scotia Health has said Omicron is having an impact on staffing

The emergency entrance at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre. Beginning Monday, most elective and non-urgent surgeries at the QEII will be cancelled. (Robert Short/CBC)

Most elective and non-urgent surgeries at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax will be cancelled as of Monday because of the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital and the number of staff off from work.

Nova Scotia Health said Friday that surgeries at the QEII would be limited for the foreseeable future to day procedures that don't require a hospital stay, as well as time-sensitive cancer and non-cancer same-day surgeries that may require a hospital stay.

"We recognize this is incredibly challenging for our periop [perioperative] teams and for our patients, however, after careful consideration, it is a necessary step to ensure sufficient in-patient bed capacity," the health authority said in a news release.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Health told CBC News that Omicron was having an impact on staffing, and hospitals have yet to bounce back.

Numbers from Nova Scotia Health, released regularly since January, show there is an increase in the number of staff off work due to COVID-19.

Hundreds of workers off the job

On March 31, there were 786 staff off work because they tested positive, were waiting for test results or were exposed to a member of their household with COVID-19. In the central health zone, where the QEII is, that total included 328 people.

At the IWK Health Centre in Halifax on March 28, 67 staff were off with COVID-19 and 46 were off isolating.

Nova Scotia Health introduced changes Friday to allow certain employees to return to work faster after a positive COVID-19 test and stay on the job even if a member of their household tests positive.

It said the changes were being made in an effort to keep the system moving while faced with staffing shortages.

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