WINDSOR, N.S. — Surgeries in the Hants Community Hospital’s newly refurbished operating room began on Feb. 14 and government officials were on hand to mark the occasion.
Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey said the new OR isn’t just a milestone for the Hants Community Hospital, but also for the larger QEII Redevelopment Project — which is a reconfiguration and retrofit of the hospital system in the metro area — as the province prepares to decommission the aging Victoria and Centennial buildings in Halifax.
“Surgeries started this morning,” Delorey said on Feb. 14. “What that means for the community is an additional 800 surgeries that are going to be performed here each year, which doubles the capacity.”
The operating room, which has been renovated and upgraded with the latest technology, hasn’t been used for more than 25 years.
“There was an unused operating room sitting here, not too far outside the city and it just made a lot of sense to renovate that space and get it up and running again to provide those services,” he said. “That allows us to provide more surgeries to more Nova Scotians in a convenient location.”
Delorey said this new operating room will help to alleviate wait times for surgeries and relieve some of the pressure on the OR’s in Halifax.
Surgeries performed at the hospital are routine day surgeries such as hernia repairs and minor orthopedic procedures such as shoulder and knee scopes.
Delorey said the capital cost of the renovation was approximately $3.8 million.
Four new registered nurses and two part-time patient attendants have been added to the staff as part of the new OR facility.
Family doctor shortage addressed
Delorey said that the province is working to address the family doctor shortage, adding that other jurisdictions across Canada are facing similar issues.
“It’s certainly on the mind of a lot of Nova Scotians as it is with the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia Health Authority,” he said.
“There are a number of initiatives underway, one is an initiative we started a few years ago, where we brought in a tuition program to provide tuition relief to new graduates as a way to incent them to stay here in the province,” he said. “There are programs that work with residency programs to try to offset some costs for new physicians in return for commitment to serve in the province for a number of years.”
Delorey said residency programs are being expanded as well, with the hope that more doctors will set up shop in Nova Scotia.
The health minister also said the province is increasing its international recruitment efforts.
“This is not something that is unique to Nova Scotia; it’s a pressure right across the country,” he said. “All of my colleagues across the country are having similar challenges.”
New OR lauded by staff
Dr. Alex Mitchell, chief of surgery at both Dartmouth General and Hants Community hospitals, said they already completed two surgeries in the new OR while the announcement was taking place.
“With these operating rooms in Hants, Hants further becomes a critical part of the surgical capacity for the central zone, the metro area, but also for the entire health authority,” Mitchell said, adding that with Hants taking on more minor surgeries, the Halifax hospitals can focus on the more intense and challenging procedures.
The other operating room at the hospital will be closed for upgrades for two weeks in order to bring that OR up to spec with the newly renovated one, the doctor said.
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said the new operating room at the Hants Community Hospital has been a long time coming and was happy to see it up and running.
Dwight Gould, a St. Croix resident whose upcoming surgery will be performed at the Hants Community Hospital, provided some remarks during the announcement.
“Last fall, I went to Dartmouth to for hernia repair, went all through the preps, all through the operating room and they said ‘emergency, can’t take yah’ — that was a whole day lost,” Gould said.
“Now having it done here is much more convenient and there’s no parking fees,” he added with a laugh.
Once both operating rooms are up and running, it will be the first time in approximately 30 years that Hants Community Hospital has two operating rooms at the same time.
Along with the renovations at the Hants Community Hospital, the QEII redevelopment project includes the expansion and renovations at the Dartmouth General Hospital and the Halifax Infirmary that will support the eventual closure of the Centennial and Victoria buildings in Halifax.
For updates on the QEII redevelopment project visit, QE2redevelopment.ca