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Infection control issues and duct tape: Sask. NDP call for General Hospital fixes

Three nurses at a Regina hospital are asking for better security measures, saying they feel unsafe going to work.
Regina's General Hospital. Kael Donelly / Global News

Infectious disease clinic flooring being held down with duct tape and the need to resurface counters and wall in part of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are among the dozens of ongoing maintenance issues at Regina’s General Hospital.

The opposition NDP brought a list of unfulfilled maintenance work orders, obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request to the Legislative Building on Monday.

“When you have duct tape in the infectious disease unit or an NICU that’s a real infection risk, that really undermines the work and creates safety risks for patients,” Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said.

The work order for the floors in the infectious disease clinic are dated March 18. The NICU work order is dated February 13. The documents obtained by the FOI were printed on Oct. 3 and 4.

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Health Minister Jim Reiter said he has not seen the documents the NDP obtained through their FOI, so he can’t speak to specific maintenance issues that are detailed.

The minister said facility maintenance is a healthcare priority, highlighting $55 million dedicated to this kind of work in the 2019-20 provincial budget.

When planning for facility maintenance, Reiter said the ministry works closely with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) on what the year’s priorities will be.

“[The SHA] talks about what kind of maintenance issues they’re struggling with, what the priorities should be and try to land on a reasonable dollar amount,” Reiter said.

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When planning maintenance, Reiter said other issues like manpower, the need to hire contractors, and what can “reasonably get done in a fiscal year” are all considered.

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Reiter added that the maintenance budget saw a $10 million increase, year-over-year.

Meili called on a greater investment in facility maintenance.

“It doesn’t really matter how many dollars or how much effort was put in. If you’re failing you’re failing. You need to fix it,” Meili said.

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Other issues identified on the work order include a recurring musty/moldy smell in a room that has been previously investigated, numerous water leaks and more routine issues like graffiti removal.

The SHA provided Global News an update of the work on Tuesday evening. The health authority said 49 of the 84 worker orders printed in the Oct. 3 report have been closed, and the remaining 35 are being planned for completion.

The flooring in the infectious disease clinic is expected to be replaced, but this work may require parts of the clinic to temporarily close so work can be done. The SHA said they are working with the clinic to figure out a time they can complete the flooring work while minimizing the impact on clinic operations.

As for the counter that needs to be replaced in the NICU, which has been called an infection risk, the SHA said a replacement is currently being fabricated. The maintenance team is reportedly working with the NICU to coordinate a time to install the new counter that will minimize disruption to the unit.

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