St. Boniface operating rooms back in service

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fourteen operating rooms at St. Boniface Hospital – shut down earlier this month due to flooding – are gradually being phased back into service.

The first emergency surgeries were performed this morning, with more operations being scheduled for the rest of the week, said Dr. Brock Wright, Senior Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer with the Region.

It is expected that St. Boniface will have all of their operating rooms in use by Monday of next week.

Dr. Michel Tétreault, President & Chief Executive Officer of St. Boniface Hospital, said yesterday was spent doing simulations to ensure all systems were operational. “We have three operating rooms doing emergency surgeries today, and will have nine operating rooms open tomorrow for programmed and emergency surgeries.”

Tétreault said the delay in opening all operating rooms until Monday is because it takes time to book surgeons, nurses and patients onto the surgical slates.

The operating rooms were closed Jan. 22 due to flooding caused by a malfunction with water pumps and air handling systems which allowed cold air to come into contact with and crack hot water coils which heat the rooms.  

Crews have been working night and day since then to get the operating rooms back in service. Delays in re-opening the rooms, attributed to problems with the ventilation system that support the operating rooms, were rectified earlier this week.

“We had to make sure the air handling system was producing the right pressure and air flow to each of the rooms, so that everything was working when doors are opened into what are essentially sealed spaces,” said Tétreault.

The closing of the St. Boniface operating rooms, in one of only two tertiary hospitals in Manitoba, represented a loss of approximately 20 per cent of the operating room capacity within the Winnipeg Health Region, and posed a major challenge to the health-care system.

As of the end of today, 348 elective surgical procedures have been delayed as a result of the shutdown, said Wright, including 330 slated for St. Boniface Hospital.

“Out of those 348 patients, 78 have already had their surgery rebooked and done,” said Wright. “Another 237 have been rebooked and patients are in the process of being notified, and the remaining 33 patients will be rebooked by early next week. We are expecting to have all surgeries re-booked within the next eight weeks, with many patients being scheduled much sooner.”

Extra surgical slates have been scheduled for weekends and at a community surgical centre, and some regular weekday slates have been extended to accommodate the backlog of cases, added Wright.

Wright and Tétreault thanked patients and their families for their perseverance under trying circumstances. They also thanked staff members involved in fixing the problem and supporting the shift of patients to different hospitals.

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