The cancellation of elective surgeries at Thompson General Hospital due to water damage to three of the facility’s four operating rooms is a result of the provincial government failing to move forward with a roof replacement project despite underspending on health care capital projects by more than $100 million, says NDP leader Wab Kinew.
The operating rooms were knocked out of commission by water damage from a faulty rooftop air conditioning unit. The damage was discovered June 1, said the Northern Regional Health Authority in a June 11 press release, and elective surgeries and procedures at the hospital have been cancelled as a result. Emergency surgeries and emergency C-sections will continue to be performed in Thompson.
An NRHA spokesperson said the exact timeline for reconstruction isn’t known yet because contractors haven’t been hired but the regional health authority is hopeful it can be done in two or three months.
New roofs for Thompson General Hospital and the adjacent administration building were among 117 health-care safety and security projects the province said it would spend $28 million on this year in a May 28 press release. The hospital is also due to get new operating room doors, new courtyard concrete and upgrades to pharmacy security, the nurse call system and lighting.
The roof replacement, vacuum pump upgrades and/or replacement and phase two of a water booster upgrade were previously announced by the provincial government in February 2018 but work has not yet begun.
“We know the Pallister government underspent its health care capital budget by over $100 million last year,” said Kinew, citing documents the NDP obtained through freedom of information requests. “And we know one of the projects the government refused to act on was the replacement of the roof for the Thompson General Hospital.
The Pas NDP MLA Amanda Lathlin said that Thompson MLA Kelly Bindle had done nothing to advocate for health care in the north over the past three years.
“We need strong voices to stand up for health care in Northern Manitoba, not MLAs like Bindle who refuse to stand up to Pallister’s cuts – the minister of health needs to answer for these cuts and present a plan today to restore service as soon as possible to the operating rooms at Thompson General Hospital.”
The total costs of replacing the roof at the hospital will not be known until the project has been tendered.