Nova Scotia’s largest hospital facing ‘serious overcapacity’ in its ER

A  person walks past the Halifax Infirmary hospital in Halifax on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Nova Scotia’s registry of people in need of primary care climbed to 116,000 this month — a record high. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan. AV

Nova Scotia Health says its QEII hospital is experiencing “serious overcapacity” this week.

In a Tuesday morning release, the health authority said there may be long waits in the Halifax Infirmary emergency department — which could continue through the long weekend.

“We appreciate your continued patience,” read the release.

Nova Scotia Health said Nova Scotians should still visit the emergency department at the QEII in case of an emergency, and call 911 for urgent medical needs.

This comes a week after the story of a senior couple who waited two hours for an ambulance to arrive for a painful injury at a downtown Halifax park. The province said there’s a paramedic staffing issue, as well as long offload times at the ER due to a lack of available beds.

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Just two months ago, Nova Scotia Health released the same notice to the public, advising of overcrowding in the ER.

It’s not the only Halifax hospital experiencing a high influx of patients.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the IWK children’s hospital said there has been “a substantial increase in the number of patients presenting at our emergency department.”

Spokesperson Ben Maycock said in an email the hospital’s main concern is the number of patients with high acuity needs.

“The increase in patient volumes combined with the rise of patients requiring complex and urgent emergency care is placing a strain on many services,” Maycock said.

He said the IWK overall isn’t over capacity at the moment, but there are longer-than-usual wait times for emergency care.

“The IWK is working diligently to address the increased demand for our services,” Maycock said, adding patients should not hesitate to visit in case of emergency.

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