Some surgeries at the NWT’s main hospital have been affected by a breakdown in sterilization equipment, the NWT government said on Friday.
Problems at Stanton Territorial Hospital began on Wednesday, the territory said in a statement, and a “small number” of surgeries had been suspended from Thursday onward.
“Urgent but non-emergency surgical procedures may be deferred to other facilities within the NWT or to Alberta if they arise,” said the NWT’s health authority. “Patient notification for cancellations is ongoing.”
The health authority said sterilization equipment at Stanton was leaving visible moisture on some medical instruments and surgical supplies, a malfunction that means the equipment isn’t fit for use.
The authority said the quality control process in place meant it was “confident that this issue was flagged immediately and that no improperly sterilized equipment was used on patients.”
However, on top of that, water leaks at the year-old hospital had contaminated backup supplies.
The new Stanton building, constructed at a cost of more than $300 million and requiring around $18 million a year in maintenance fees, has faced a series of problems related to leaks, drafts, and other structural complaints.
“Work to determine the cause [of the leaks] is ongoing,” the health authority said in a statement.
There is no indication of when the sterilization equipment may be fixed.
“Stanton is working with partners to determine the root cause of the issue,” said the health authority.
“There are many factors that could affect the sterilization process, including the environment within the building itself, the devices and the systems that support them, and the quality of the water being used.
“The sterile supplies that remain are being conserved to retain emergency surgery capacity.
The authority added it was “looking at options to sterilize equipment at other facilities in the NWT.”
Some elective surgeries are able to go ahead. Patients who have travelled to Yellowknife from elsewhere are being prioritized.