Nova Scotia

Elective surgeries stopped at Truro hospital because of COVID pressures

Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health warned Tuesday that the province's health-care system has little room for expanding its capacity and said elective surgeries have already stopped at the Truro hospital.

Truro is in the northern health zone, which is seeing a COVID-19 outbreak in a 'defined group'

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang says the spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated people will put pressure on an already strained health-care system. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health warned Tuesday that the province's health-care system has little room for expanding its capacity and said elective surgeries have already stopped at the Truro hospital.

"We have little ability to absorb a surge of severe illness from COVID," Dr. Robert Strang said at Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing.

Strang said despite having one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, Nova Scotia remains vulnerable because of the roughly 10 per cent of the population that hasn't been vaccinated.

Strang said the spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated people will put pressure on an already strained health-care system.

He said the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro has stopped doing elective surgeries because of "pressures from what's happening in that part of the province."

Nova Scotia Health spokesperson Carla Adams said 45 surgeries scheduled to take place at Colchester East Hants Health Centre between Tuesday and Friday have been postponed.

Adams said the hospital is still providing urgent and emergent inpatient surgery, as well as some elective day surgery this week.

"While the surgery reductions are not necessarily directly related to the COVID situation, fewer surgeries reduce the pressure on bed access and patient flow," she said in an email.

"Surgeries were reduced at northern zone's three regional hospitals for different reasons this summer, mostly to do with staffing challenges and mostly at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre."

Outbreak in northern zone community

The Truro hospital is located in the northern health zone, which is currently seeing an outbreak in what's been called a "defined group."

Most of the group is unvaccinated, so more cases are expected, a government news release said Tuesday.

Sixty-one of Tuesday's 66 new cases in Nova Scotia are in the northern zone, and 59 of those are close contacts of previously reported cases.

At Tuesday's briefing, Strang declined to provide further details about the community experiencing the outbreak so as to avoid stigmatization. He said there is a young demographic and the people of the community mostly interact with each other.

Strang urged Nova Scotians to get vaccinated.

"Broad spread will create further pressures and could prevent people from accessing critically urgent non-COVID health-care services," he said. "That is happening in other parts of the country."

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