Nova Scotia

Contingency plan in place at QEII to deal with overcrowding

The QEII Health Sciences Centre made changes to deal with overcrowding in the emergency department that has led to longer wait times this past week. Overcrowding lessened over the weekend. But special measures remain in place for now

OPatients have been experiencing longer than usual waits in the emergency department

A contingency plan has been put in place to alleviate overcrowding and long patient waits at the emergency department. (Robert Short/CBC)

Higher than normal patient volumes at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax during the past week have been causing longer waits for people seeking emergency treatment.

Margaret Angus, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Health, said Friday she was not aware of any connection between the overcrowding and COVID-19.

"The cause has been a sustained period of high activity in our emergency department and also increased waits for admitted patients to access a bed, especially at the QEII," she said. 

The health authority said in a news release that measures have been put into effect at the hospital to increase patient capacity and improve the situation.

Angus said the health authority has launched a co-ordinated effort involving clinical and administrative officials in the central zone, which includes the Halifax area, Eastern Shore and West Hants.

She said four inpatient beds have been opened at the Halifax Infirmary and seven stretchers will open in the infirmary's radiology recovery area. 

Weekend staffing was also increased to support discharging patients over the weekend. 

In an email Sunday, Angus said the situation is "looking much better", with only three patients at the QEII emergency department awaiting admission, and no ambulances waiting at any of the four major emergency departments in the central health zone.

The extra beds will stay open for the time being to "help ensure things are stabilized."