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NS speeds replacement of sterilization units

Leo GlavineHALIFAX – The Halifax Infirmary will get a new, $500,000 sterilization system to replace malfunctioning equipment that has caused hundreds of surgeries to be postponed over the past few weeks, Nova Scotia’s government said.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine (pictured) told the provincial legislature that the government is ordering five sterilizing units at a cost of $100,000 each. “The time has come and the department is committed to the purchase of new equipment,” he said.

Hospital staff discovered black flecks of material on medical devices that had been inside the sterilizing units. It turned out the material was the product of corrosion.

“The black metallic specks are coming from erosion inside the sterilizer. The age of the sterilizers are all roughly the same – 25 to 30 years. They will have to be replaced; that is not an option, to look at repair,” Glavine said.

“It is about a five- to six-week process to get those here. In the meantime, we will continue to escalate the plan to have the equipment sterilized around the province.”

Glavine said ambulatory clinic surgeries at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre are now operating at 100 percent, the Victoria General site is at 70 percent and the Halifax Infirmary at 65 percent.

“We are still not where we need to be or want to be,” he said.

The five sterilizers are being ordered from an American firm and a decision to purchase or lease the equipment is currently being weighed, he said.

“A lease provides the option of updating that equipment perhaps on a more regular basis than obviously we have done, and we wouldn’t be in the situation that we currently are.”

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