Health Department IT outage affecting medical appointments, COVID-19 testing across N.L.

·3 min read
Some online health services in Newfoundland and Labrador, like forms for COVID-19 testing and the main information system for patient files, are down because of an IT outage. (Jenny Kane/The Associated Press - image credit)
Some online health services in Newfoundland and Labrador, like forms for COVID-19 testing and the main information system for patient files, are down because of an IT outage. (Jenny Kane/The Associated Press - image credit)

An IT systems outage is causing problems with a number of health-related services across Newfoundland and Labrador, causing delays, cancelled appointments and issues with COVID-19 testing.

In a news release Sunday evening, the Department of Health said it continues to assess the outage; however, the impacts to service vary by region.

In the Eastern Health region, all non-emergency procedures scheduled for Monday will be rescheduled for a later date. Patients travelling into the Eastern Health region for appointments should call 1-833-777-1276 to determine if your appointment is being rescheduled.

All appointments at Central Health facilities on Monday will be cancelled. Central Health patients with questions regarding appointments, procedures and surgeries scheduled for Monday may call 1-844-651-6214.

Telehealth and virtual appointments scheduled with Eastern Health and Central Health providers or services, like cancer care, will not proceed on Monday.

Chemotherapy appointments at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook, Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital in Stephenville and Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre in Port aux Basques will not proceed on Monday.

Routine laboratory and diagnostic imaging appointments on Monday in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region will be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date.

None of the province's regional health authorities are able to send or receive emails.

Some health services continuing

In-person dialysis, community-based services, mental health and addictions counselling services, vaccination clinics and maternal-fetal assessment unit appointments in the Eastern Health region will go ahead.

In-person dialysis will proceed at James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre in Gander and Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor.

In the Western and Labrador-Grenfell Health regions, clinical services and scheduled surgeries will continue as planned.

Western Health appointments for blood collection will proceed as scheduled.

COVID-19 documents impacted

Processing for COVID-19 forms and applications will continue — albeit on paper — including the travel form required for visitors, the form for COVID-19 testing and test results and the forms used to submit out of province vaccination documents.

The department first announced the outage Saturday night, as several parts of the province's online COVID-19 hub were first affected.

In a statement sent to CBC News on Saturday, the department said travellers arriving in the province with completed travel forms can provide the reference number from their documents, along with identification, when they arrive. If a form is not already completed when they arrive, travellers can use a paper copy.

Those who require COVID-19 testing should call 811, the department said.

Brian Snyder/Reuters
Brian Snyder/Reuters

The outage is also affecting operational, clinical and administrative systems used by the province's health authorities.

In a news release Saturday, Eastern Health said Meditech, the main information system used to manage patient care and finance information, is affected, as well as PACS, the system that provides access to medical images like X-rays.

Central Health said there could be delays in emergency services related to the outage, while Western Health said patient Wi-Fi is also affected.

Both the Health Department and the health authorities are working with the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information and Bell Aliant to try and resolve the issue.

The Department of Health did not respond to requests for interviews from CBC News on Sunday.

The department said Health Minister John Haggie and Eastern Health CEO David Diamond will provide a live-streamed update at 11 a.m. Monday.

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