Nova Scotia Health Authority cancels blood collection appointments Friday

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has cancelled all blood collection appointments in most areas of the province on Friday, citing an interruption in the Meditech information system.

In a release, the health authority said all blood collection appointments have been cancelled in the following areas:

  • Cape Breton Island, Antigonish and Guysborough counties.

  • Colchester County and Municipality of East Hants, Cumberland County and Pictou County.

  • Annapolis and Kings counties, Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties, Lunenburg and Queens counties.

Nova Scotia Health spokesperson Brendan Elliott said in an email that the health authority uses Meditech to register patients and "without it we are not able to process routine lab testing."

It's unclear exactly how many people were affected, but Elliott said about 200 people in the northern health zone were affected by the cancellations.

In the eastern zone, there are 13 lab collection sites with appointments ranging between 15 and 250 patients. And in the western zone, Eliot said there are 11 blood collection sites.

"Hard to quantify total patients affected, however, we have been calling to cancel and reschedule clients since about 11:30 this morning," Elliott wrote.

He said the central health zone uses a different system, so patients in that area weren't affected.

Difficulty booking appointments

Patients have had a difficult time getting an appointment with Nova Scotia's blood collection services for months.

In June, people were having difficulty getting through the phone lines to book an appointment. The following month, the health authority added additional phone lines and increased hours in the central zone for people to call in to book an appointment.

The health authority added even more phone lines and said a new booking system was in the works earlier this month to try to help with the deluge of calls.

In a release Thursday, before the health authority announced that the appointments were cancelled, the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party issued a news release calling for improvements to the province's blood collection system.

"Timely testing like blood work is imperative for the health and wellbeing of patients, as well as for healthcare professionals to properly do their job," said Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland.

"Unfortunately, individuals who have tried to book blood work have been getting a voice recording, due to the phone lines being swamped."

The release also quoted David Wamboldt, a Queens-Shelburne resident. He said he went to the emergency room in July because he wasn't feeling well and was told to get blood work done. He said he called more than 40 times but was unable to get through.

"People get sick and they go to the doctor, then they can't get blood work," Wamboldt said. "They don't know what to do or what's wrong with them. It's not right."