All nine operating rooms at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre were temporarily closed Tuesday afternoon after water leaked down from a second-floor construction site.

All nine operating rooms at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre were temporarily closed Tuesday afternoon after water leaked down from a second-floor construction site.

Flood delays surgery for dozens of patients

All nine operating rooms at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre were temporarily closed Tuesday afternoon after water leaked down from a second-floor construction site.

All nine operating rooms at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre were temporarily closed Tuesday afternoon after water leaked down from a second-floor construction site.

Four of the operating rooms were flooded and remain closed on Wednesday for assessment, cleanup and possible renovation.

Alberta Health Services said surgery on one patient was wrapping up at the time and was completed as planned.

Power was shut down as a precaution to all the operating rooms, located on the main floor beneath the site, where two operating rooms for scheduled caesarean sections and emergency obstetrical procedures are under construction.

A few nearby rooms on the second floor also had some flooding.

“There’s still some cleanup and reclamation work that needs to be done. It’s hard to speculate, but we’re hoping at least two of those ORs will be functioning for next week,” said Kerry Bales, chief zone officer for Alberta Health Services Central Zone, on Wednesday.

Flooding occurred at about noon on Tuesday causing 11 surgical procedures to be cancelled and deferred. Another 28 did not go ahead on Wednesday.

An average of 48 surgeries per day are performed at the hospital.

“Obviously our first priority is on any surgeries that would be considered urgent — so emergencies, obstetrical cases, and urgent orthopedics. Procedures that are being deferred would be procedures that are not necessarily life threatening, although we completely recognize that for the patients that being deferred it is extremely inconvenient to them unfortunately. We’re trying to make sure we maintain the volumes to the best of our ability.”

He said the hospital is looking at more weekend and evening surgeries and is working to be at full surgical capacity as soon as possible.

“We are operating with a few less operating rooms, but the site is able to maintain the services that it provides. It continues to be a referral centre for the rest of the zone,” Bales said.

Red Deer surgeon Dr. Paul Hardy said that he was told 60 litres a minute of water gushed out for 20 minutes during the mishap. He worried that the hospital would be down two operating rooms for at least six weeks and it will be a struggle for patients and staff.

One of the five remaining operating rooms is only for urology patients.

He said cancer surgery must also go ahead despite the flooding, and OR closures have exposed how severely challenged surgery capacity is at the Red Deer hospital.

“We do 12,000 surgeries a year in Red Deer and we moved probably about 3,000 surgeries to Innisfail and Olds in the last five years and our 12,000 number has remained constant. In other words we thought we were doing a good thing having surgeons travelling away to do these 3,000 surgeries outside of Red Deer and it hasn’t given us any breathing space,” Hardy said.

Cataract surgery, which does not require a stay in hospital, was moved to Innisfail from Red Deer, and day surgery for small procedures are done in Olds.

He said only so much surgery can be done outside Red Deer. For example, surgeons can’t do a bowel resection in a community hospital and leave the patient there.

“We’re kind of hitting a concrete ceiling in terms of other options. All the slack is gone from the system.”

He said more evening and weekend surgery comes with staff burnout and a higher chance of mistakes happening.

Hardy said about four years ago the hospital was at the top of the list for major infrastructure projects when it was bumped. A 2007 plan to expand the Red Deer hospital by adding north and south towers to the site by 2035 includes doubling the number of operating rooms and there’s been no movement on the plan.

He said the two obstetric ORs will help, but more needs to be done soon for Alberta’s fourth largest hospital behind the University of Alberta Hospital and Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, and Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

After he was asked for a surgery update from the Health Minister last October, Hardy hoped some money would come to Red Deer but it was left off the list when funding was announced that month.

Hardy said Red Deer hospital serves Central Alberta and if there is no movement on plans in the next five years it will pose a risk.

“We’re efficient as can be and funded far below the big city hospitals.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

A man on a skateboard and a young woman pass large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on November 22, 2015. The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding student loan payments that officials will never be able to collect. Recently released spending documents show the government won't collect $203.5 million in debts from 34,240 students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan

VANCOUVER — A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing is set to start… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

Most Read