Operating rooms were on hold and some appointments were cancelled after a critical network failure Friday morning across all The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) sites.
According to information provided to hospital staff and obtained by CBC News, a "hardware issue" was discovered at about 5 a.m. Friday, resulting in a network failure that affected multiple software systems.
As a result the hospital entered into a critical infrastructure failure code grey, which remained in place Friday afternoon.
Affected systems included: EPIC (an electronic health records management system), PACs (picture archiving and communication systems), Cerner (a suite of medical software), Rhapsody and SPOK Mobile paging.
"An incident command centre has been put in place and operations teams are working on downtime procedures for all TOH sites and our regional partners impacted," the information provided to TOH staff Friday morning stated.
Staff were advised that TOH didn't expect anything to change until "at least" noon.
Systems began ticking back online before noon
One doctor who declined to be named because she wasn't authorized to speak told CBC News that staff can keep doing medicine without computers.
Health-care staff outside the General campus told CBC that some systems were starting to come back online and they were instituting workarounds such as printing things off and calling patients with results instead of emailing them.
An email to staff at 11:50 a.m. said systems were starting to function again, but advised staff not to immediately log in.
Amanda Holroyd, an administrative assistant for TOH, said the issue affected "most of the hospital," and that systems were coming back online before noon.
In a statement sent just before 5 p.m., the TOH said it was fully operational and the network issue was resolved.
"The interruption was caused by a hardware issue," spokesperson Vanessa Sanchez wrote by email. "Unfortunately we don't have information on how many were affected."
'Most unfortunate,' says visitor
Isabelle Salole said she showed up at the hospital Friday morning with her husband, who needed blood work for a transfusion early next week.
They managed to get everything done just before the hospital closed the entire lab until Tuesday morning, she said.
People who showed up without printed copies of requisitions weren't so lucky, Salole said.
"It's most unfortunate, and I guess it applied to the whole Ottawa Hospital system," she said. "We were very fortunate that we got the blood test done."
Mary McEwen, who was at the General campus to help her mother, said a doctor had to walk down to another room to retrieve some imaging, but otherwise she didn't notice much of a difference in their care.
"They seem to be a really well-oiled machine. The nurses that I've spoken to, they're adapting. It's easy enough to do things up on paper," McEwen said.