There was no shortage of traffic outside the Cape Breton Regional Hospital on Friday. Inside, some people say the emergency department is just as busy.
"I've been in there since 8 a.m. and they want me to get blood work, and there's a lot ambulances right now," said patient Melissa Banks. "They're all backed up, big time."
Dr. Margaret Fraser says patients are in hallways, on other floors, and just about everywhere else there is space.
She says there were 22 admitted patients on Friday, but she says what is more alarming is some have been sent to the pediatric floor.
"I think it's a little questionable putting patients in pediatrics," Fraser said. "There should not be adult patients in pediatrics. That is a locked unit for a reason. There is controlled access to pediatrics, but that's more difficult to do when you have four adult patients and their adult visitors in there."
But the Nova Scotia Health Authority says it's not uncommon to have ER patients on the pediatric floor.
In an e-mailed statement, they say the "NSHA follows a policy that is used in cases of overcapacity. At CBRH, pediatric service is one area in a series of overflow options for patient flow pressures. Those patients were moved to adult inpatient beds yesterday."
Fraser says the reason the regional is so overcrowded is because some physicians have withdrawn in-patient services at surrounding community hospitals. An issue she says goes back to unequal pay.
"For example, today we have 23 empty beds in Glace Bay that we could be using," Fraser said. "That would virtually solve all of our overcrowding problems, if patients could be repatriated to Glace Bay."
Fraser hopes the province and the physicians can come to an agreement to soon to fix a problem that she says has gone on for far too long.
It doesn't look like there will be much relief in sight this weekend. North Sydney, New Waterford and Glace Bay hospitals are all closed. Leaving the regional's ER department the only one offering services in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.