The number of cancelled elective surgeries at Stanton Territorial Hospital has increased to 54 for the period of July 23 to Aug. 11, said NWT Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) spokesperson Lisa Giovanetto on Friday.

The authority previously said that most joint-replacement surgeries have been cancelled but that emergency surgeries were still going forward.

RELATED REPORTING: Stanton hospital cancels 31 elective surgeries amid sterilization issues

The cancellations are related to sterilization problems with equipment cleaning at the hospital, which were first discovered on July 23.

A total of 54 elective surgeries have been cancelled for the period of July 23 to Aug. 11. Blair McBride/NNSL photo


RELATED REPORTING: Stanton hospital delays, cancels surgeries to deal with sterilization problem

At issue are “wet packs” that were found during the sterilization processes, an occurrence where moisture is visible after medical instruments to be used in surgical procedures are sterilized using steam and heat.

If instruments are found in that state they’re rejected by medical device reprocessing specialists and put back into the sterilization queue.

Another problem occurred with some of the stored sterile supplies being contaminated with water leaks. An investigation into the cause is ongoing.

Supplies of sterilized equipment are available that were put through the sterilization process before the problems began and the hospital is conserving them for emergency surgery capacity.

The NTHSSA has undertaken several measures to resolve the problem with sterilization, Giovanetto said.

A representative from the equipment vendor has been brought to Stanton to examine the equipment and help troubleshoot. Methodical approaches of loading the machines have been carried out such as trying different towels and wraps for the packages that go into the devices, trying different trays that hold the equipment and varying the contents of the equipment loads.

In addition, filters of varying sizes have been installed to eliminate mineralization in the water, the City of Yellowknife has been consulted about information on recent changes to water treatment might affect water quality, experts have been contacted to discuss the problem with other hospital sites across Canada to seek advice, and alternate materials have been examined for use such as pre-sterilized single-use surgical items.

Loads have been continually inserted into the sterilization devices to evaluate the effectiveness of all changes, with added staffing changes through evenings and weekends to address these issues as quickly as possible.

“We have seen some progress, however we are still not at a point where we have consistent sterilization capacity to build up a suite of stored equipment to resume regular surgical volumes,” said Giovanetto.

“One of the next steps we will be taking is to adjust environmental factors, namely relative humidity, in the medical device reprocessing unit. This involves reprogramming of the building air handling systems and should be complete by the end of the week.”

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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  1. this scenario needs a thorough and serious investigation and research and study for the steam quality that goes into the sterilizer, and also the boiler itself or the filter of the water from it source. these need testing. plus as of this time technology must be apply as how to control humidity and temperature during summer and winter time as North has fluctuated temperature.