Elective Surgeries on Hold Due to Oxygen Problem at Stanton Territorial Hospital

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Most elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife are being cancelled till October 1 as the facility continues to struggle with an oxygen supply problem, as per the Northwestern Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA).

In a public notice released Saturday morning, the health authority said non-essential physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech language appointments would additionally be cancelled for the rest of the month, and that exercise stress tests may continue to be booked solely for urgent needs.

Those who are affected by the changes will be contacted directly, it said.

Officials announced on Wednesday they had identified an infrastructure limitation at the hospital, which restricts the amount of oxygen that can be delivered in each zone of the building at any given time.

The health authority said it had cancelled operations on Tuesday morning so the problem could be dealt with. The next day, surgeries resumed, with a caution that further cancellations could be necessary.

The oxygen supply problem is one of several issues the building has had since it opened in May 2019, including mould, birthing tubs and water leaks that could not be used. And it comes at a time when oxygen is crucially needed as part of treatment for COVID-19 cases.

30 people have been hospitalized since the pandemic started, public health officials said in their most recent update on Friday, 26 of which are related with a current outbreak of the delta variant.

On Saturday, the NTHSSA said it had worked remotely with the contractor who set up the oxygen infrastructure and that the technicians would be visiting the location over the weekend. It additionally said that it was turning to the federal government for assistance.

“Discussions regarding federal support have indicated potential equipment availability that will add capacity for oxygen at Stanton,” it said. “Assessment is ongoing to confirm this and plan how it may be implemented to address this issue.”

The authority said it has been working with the region’s infrastructure department and Dexterra (a facility management provider) to understand oxygen delivery capacity limits and how it impacts care the hospital can offer amid the COVID environment.

In addition, it has created a secondary intensive care site, prepared for the use of bedside oxygen tanks, and examined further oxygen generation and distribution options.

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