Nova Scotia Journal

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Crumbling infrastructure forcing Halifax pathologists to the brink

Nova Scotia

Key takeaways: 

  • The pathology unit is not included in QEII redevelopment despite the aging building.
  • Staff says the building requires significant advancements to rescue their work.

Inside Halifax’s pathology unit, one physician works in a room with a pipe leaking into a bucket. 

The staff wears expensive safety suits in another room to defend themselves from toxic fumes because of ventilation issues. 

Found inside the Mackenzie Building on the Victoria General site, the head of pathology says their crumbling infrastructure is risking patient care.

The pathology lab is a critical yet frequently overlooked part of the healthcare system, says Dr. Laurette Geldenhuys.

Her concerns are echoed by a Nova Scotia Health review that also alerts the condition of the laboratory’s facilities is failing. 

The team processes approximately 100,000 samples annually for patients across the Atlantic area. While the volume of work is enough for them to be swamped, issues with the building are pushing the squad to the brink, says Geldenhuys. 

Read more: Halifax indie movie fest attracts big crowds to in-person screenings

nside Halifax’s pathology unit, one physician works in a room with a pipe leaking into a bucket

“As the pressure keeps mounting and mounting, no amount of collegiality is going to make up,” she stated of the pressure put upon her team. “I’m worried that once we start losing pathologists, it will have a spiraling negative impact once people resign.”

She states there have been several floods. One was “within inches” of sensitive tools in the lab that processes cancer samples.

In another office, “a pipe is coming from the top into a big bucket of water that is not curable. 

So the pathologist has to work under those circumstances.” Geldenhuys says her team is always anxious about more flooding.

“That can have a very significant negative effect on patient care. So it is just actually a disaster waiting to happen.”

Geldenhuys’s situation is mirrored in a department review released in March. It says “there are significant structural problems about the Mackenzie Building” with a “possibility for serious disruption of the service.”

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