Nova Scotia

Service reductions coming to N.S. hospitals due to anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients

The health-care system in Nova Scotia is cutting some services to create capacity for an anticipated influx of patients sick with COVID-19.

IWK cutting elective surgeries by 25 per cent starting Monday

Dr. Robert Strang said Friday he expects a significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the coming days. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

The health-care system in Nova Scotia is cutting some services to create capacity for an anticipated influx of patients sick with COVID-19.

The IWK Health Science Centre — Halifax's pediatric and women's hospital — announced Friday it would reduce elective surgeries by 25 per cent starting Monday, lasting for at least two weeks.

A news release from the hospital said the reduction is meant to ensure health-care workers and beds are available for COVID-19 patients, especially in light of the potential for staffing to be impacted by community exposures.

Everyone affected by the service reduction has already been notified, the news release said.

No other service reductions are planned at the IWK right now, the release said, but "this situation is changing rapidly and some future cases could be impacted with little notice."

Nova Scotia Health says some surgeries are being cancelled at nine hospitals across the province, including the QEII in Halifax. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Nova Scotia Health, which is responsible for all other hospitals in the province, is also cancelling some surgeries and outpatient care.

'Limited number' of priority surgeries will go ahead

The health authority announced Friday it would temporarily reduce surgery admissions at the following hospitals:

  • Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
  • St. Martha's Regional Hospital.
  • Aberdeen Hospital.
  • Colchester East Hants Health Centre.
  • Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
  • Valley Regional Hospital.
  • Yarmouth Regional Hospital.
  • South Shore Regional Hospital.
  • Dartmouth General Hospital.
  • QEII Health Sciences Centre.

No details were provided about how many surgeries are being cancelled or for how long.

A news release from Nova Scotia Health said "a limited number of priority surgeries requiring admission will occur each day, for those requiring urgent or cancer-related procedures."

Surgeons' offices are in the process of notifying affected patients, but there may be little notice, the health authority said.

"Efforts will be made to rebook patients who've had their surgeries postponed as quickly as possible."

Both the IWK and Nova Scotia Health said pre-admission appointments and surgical consults are continuing, as usual.

As of Friday, the province has 589 known active cases. However, Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said he expects numbers to rise in the coming days as laboratories catch up on a large backlog of COVID-19 swabs

Twenty-two people are in hospital with the virus, five in intensive care.

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin says he's worried about a possible influx in patients sick with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Strang said he also expects hospitalizations to increase substantially in the coming days.

Premier Iain Rankin said officials are working non-stop to prepare the health-care system and stem any further spread of the coronavirus, but he's concerned about the possibility of seeing more Nova Scotians hospitalized with COVID-19.

"I'm confident that we have a strong health-care system, but we're worried," Rankin said Friday.


Taryn Grant


Taryn Grant is a Halifax-based reporter and web writer for CBC Nova Scotia. You can email her with tips and feedback at

With files from Tom Murphy