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High flu activity prompts postponement of most inpatient surgeries

Posted Nov 3rd, 2009

Niagara, On:  Niagara Health System (NHS) is postponing all inpatient surgeries scheduled for Wednesday, November 4, with the exception of cancer cases and emergency surgical procedures.

“We know that the postponement of a surgical procedure can be stressful and difficult for patients and their families,” says Anne Atkinson, Vice President Patient Services.  “We regret having to take this step, but it is necessary due to the continuing increase in the number of patients requiring hospital treatment and the number of staff calling in sick.”

All emergency surgeries, cancer cases and other surgeries that could potentially affect the patients’ outcome if delayed will proceed. Outpatient endoscopy procedures are also being postponed on Wednesday, November 4. All procedures that are temporarily postponed are being rebooked.

Niagara Health System’s Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centres saw a 
32.6 percent overall increase in patient volumes yesterday as compared to the daily average last month; 679 patients yesterday compared to the September daily average of 512. Of the 721 patients seen in the ERs, UCCs and Flu Assessment Centre (42 patients) yesterday, 43 per cent of patients, or 307 patients, presented with flu symptoms.

Most of the patients NHS is seeing with flu-like illness are not critically ill. In most cases, these types of patients are treated and discharged and have not required hospitalization. Currently, there are 43 inpatients with confirmed or suspected H1N1 flu, compared to 36 yesterday.  Three patients are on ventilators in our Intensive Care Units.

“By postponing surgeries, we will be able to redeploy nurses and other staff to other areas in the hospital,” says Anne. “The increased activity related to H1N1 is creating a ripple effect for services throughout the hospital, and we have a significant number of measures in place to manage the increased pressures.”

As the situation evolves with the prevalence of flu symptoms and respiratory illness in our region, the hospital will reassess on a daily basis the need to make changes in order to respond to the increase in demand for care.  

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Caroline Bourque Wiley
Consultant, Public Affairs
905-378-4647, ext. 43113

Niagara Health System