MEDIA RELEASE: HI Emergency Department Reaches Boiling Point

The situation at the Halifax Infirmary emergency department has reached a boiling point, as nurses’ pleas to call “Code Orange” (a special alert usually reserved for incidents with mass casualties) were denied on Wednesday evening.
At one point, 99 patients were in the department, with just three doctors on rotation and three fewer RNs than required. By 4 a.m., 42 patients left the emergency department without being seen by a doctor.
“This is simply unsafe for everyone: patients and workers,” said NSGEU President Jason MacLean, “The Premier cannot continue to ignore this health care crisis.”
The unsafe conditions at the HI site on Wednesday are outlined clearly in a Clinical Capacity Report that was submitted by nurses on duty that evening. A Clinical Capacity Report is a workload measurement tool used by nurses. Some of the most concerning items noted in this report were:
  • Seven critically ill patients in pod #2 (trauma beds), who required one-on-one nursing, and just four RNs on duty;
  • Five additional high-acuity patients who normally would have remained in pod #2 had to be shifted to pod #3 & 4 (an area where new nurses who haven’t been fully orientated to the ED are normally assigned);
  • There were 9+ ambulances full of 85- to 95-year-old patients in the ambulance holding area with paramedics, pulled from around the province, waiting for 12+ hours;
  • Cobequid, Hants, and Digby hospitals were all trying to transfer patients to the HI ED, and the Dartmouth General had to send a very sick patient;
  • Cobequid was again forced to stay open overnight because patients had to be held.
“The nurses who were on duty dealing with this chaos had no breaks and no food during their 12-hour shift,” added President MacLean.
“It is unacceptable that our health care workers are being treated this way. They are the ones on the front lines, trying to keep the lid on a system that is about to boil over.”
The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 31,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.
For more information or to arrange an interview with NSGEU President Jason MacLean, please contact:
Holly Fraughton, NSGEU Communications Officer
902-424-4063 (office)
902-471-1781 (cell)

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