Nova Scotia

Halifax doctor says Victoria General site should be demolished

A former president of the District Medical Staff Association for Capital Health says the time has come to demolish the Victoria General building.

Health Minister Leo Glavine acknowledges it's time to replace some of the old hospital sites in Halifax

Water streams down walls, flooding floors at the Victoria General hospital site. 0:30

A former president of the District Medical Staff Association for Capital Health says the time has come to demolish the Victoria General building.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Gross says Thursday night's flood, which forced the relocation of 50 patients and the cancellation of over 100 surgeries, is just the latest in a series of incidents for the aging building.

"The VG is an outdated institution, everything in it is past its due life — the pipes, the electricity, it has asbestos in it, it has legionella in the water supply and yet we house our most vulnerable patients there," he said.

Gross says everything in the building is so far past its due date that the building would need a complete overhaul in order to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening again.

"Why have we let things deteriorate to such a dangerous level that we have just wiped out an ICU with all of the expensive stuff in it, flooded. That's going to take months to bring back … so why has this been allowed?"

Governance an issue

Gross says governance has been an issue when it comes to medical experts being heard on this matter — and he's not only referring to the current Nova Scotia government.

Dr. Michael Gross is an orthopedic surgeon and a former president of the District Medical Staff Association for Capital Health. (CBC)

"Every government in the last 20 years that we've had doesn't want to deal with the fact that we need to build a new hospital," he said. 

Gross says a new hospital for Halifax has been on the plans for years, but no government has taken action on it.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine said Thursday the flooding was a key indication that urgent action is required, but  it's up to the health authority to initiate the upgrade plan.

$700 million

Glavine said any rebuilds will be "the biggest cost that we would have incurred in a quarter of a century in this province."

Gross estimates the project will cost up to $700 million but it's time for government to move forward with plans for a new hospital in Halifax..

"Why have we built hospitals outside that are over-budgeted, under-utilitized and in areas where there's not a lot of people and yet the the two main teaching hospitals in Halifax have been so severely under-funded?" he said.

"Both busy hospitals, both pushed past their limits." 

The flood damage is expected to keep patients out of the VG for weeks, if not months.

Gross says if the the VG is shut down, a plan could be drawn up to deal with patient needs — by doing outpatient surgery at Hants and utilitzing the underused Truro facility, but that is conditional upon immediate action to move forward

"The VG has to close, it's not a safe hospital."

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