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Crush of H1N1 patients may force cancellation of surgeries

Nova Scotia's largest health authority is facing the possibility ofhaving to cancel all scheduled surgeries as it increases the number ofbeds and staff dedicated to swine flu cases.

Nova Scotia's largest health authority is facing the possibility of having to cancel all scheduled surgeries as it increases the number of beds and staff dedicated to swine flu cases.

Officials with Capital Health said late last week they are down to 45 per cent of the surgeries they would normally perform because more people with H1N1 are being placed in intensive care units.

Chris Power, CEO of Capital Health, said they're expecting the number of people with swine flu to double each week for the next couple of weeks, placing more demand on already stressed resources.

That would add about six to 10 people a week to intensive care units, leading to the possibility that all non life-threatening surgeries may be postponed for a time.

“That may come to be,” she said. “We're assessing it on a day-to-day basis.”

The hospital cancelled 37 surgeries Friday and expects that number to grow. That included urology, ear, nose and throat, orthopedic, neurological and cardiac procedures.

Capital Health said it has created two ICUs for H1N1 patients and is adding another between the municipality's two main hospitals.

There are up to 30 people with swine flu in hospital in the district, with seven on ventilators. Power said they have 100 ventilators, along with ones in other areas if needed.

Brendan Carr, the authority's vice-president of medicine, said they've never seen this level of cancellations before, adding that it could last for weeks if the virus continues to spread and there is a third wave.

“We haven't seen anything of this magnitude that is sustained over a period of time,” he said.

Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, urged people to stock up on supplies of food, medicines and other supplies so that they're prepared to take care of themselves for 72 hours if they become sick.

 
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