Nova Scotia

'Just another day at the VG': two more leaks cause headaches at hospital

Staff on the fifth floor of the Victoria General Hospital were faced with two more leaks this month, in incidents that are becoming far too common according to the province's health coalition.

Water damage hits the 5th floor of Victoria General Hospital

The VG hospital in Halifax has been experiencing problems for years. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Staff on the fifth floor of the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax were faced with two more leaks this month in incidents that are becoming far too common, according to an organization that advocates for high levels of care in the provincial health system.

The first incident was on May 8, when the Nova Scotia Health Authority tweeted that there was water damage from a leaky pipe. The same area was hit again on May 17, the health authority has confirmed.

"We should be shocked and appalled that there are pipes leaking and other system failures in our medical facilities," said Chris Parsons, the provincial co-ordinator for the Nova Scotia Health Coalition. "But, in Nova Scotia, we've just gotten to the point where we say, 'Just another day at the VG.'"

The leaks occurred in what is described as a recovery area. The health authority says no appointments were cancelled. 

A piece of equipment used in stem-cell treatment was hit by the water. It's now off-site for testing, but the health authority says it's confident it will return to service. 

"The safety of patients, staff, visitors and anyone else who enters our buildings and facilities is very important to us and always top priority," health authority spokesperson Kristen Lipscombe said in an email.

She points to flood procedures that are in place. There are signs posted in the facility about how to cope with a flood. 

Chris Parsons, with the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, says people should be upset that water issues continue at the Victoria General Hospital. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

But Parsons says it should be unacceptable that a flood protocol is needed in a hospital. 

"We need to expect more," he said. "And it's really disappointing where we've reached a point that these things aren't surprising.

"People, when they go into a hospital, have to have confidence that they're going to be in a safe, clean environment, but also an environment that's conducive to being calm."

In September 2015, three floors of the hospital  - including the fifth floor - were hit by a significant flood that forced staff to move 50 patients. 

Just a few months later, in December of that year, the ophthalmology department on the second floor fell victim to a pipe leak.

Last summer, a leaky valve caused flooding on the eighth floor in the bone marrow transplant unit

There are plans to replace the hospital within the next few years. Parsons hopes incidents like this will fuel the public to demand more answers about those plans and push them forward.

About the Author

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca