03/25/2014 10:50 EDT | Updated 05/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Stain problem figured out at Regina hospital, full surgeries to resume

REGINA - After more than a month of postponements, Regina's Pasqua Hospital will finally be returning to full surgical capacity after determining the cause of a stain showing up in a sterilization process.

Staff first started noticing the discolouration in mid-February on the linens wrapped around surgical tools being processed in a steam sterilizer.

By late February, the Regina-Qu'Appelle Health Region decided to postpone all surgeries at the Pasqua to try and determine the cause of the rust-coloured stain.

Roughly a week and a half later, the Pasqua returned to 85 per cent surgical capacity despite the cause still being unknown at the time.

Keith Dewar, CEO of the health region, says specialists from Georgia and Pennsylvania were able to determine the discolouration was showing up because the steam in the process was too wet.

That meant it was staying on the linens too long and leaving a mark.

"Steam is steam, you'd think, but there is actually a moisture content in steam and if it gets below a certain amount it actually does provide an opportunity for some of the dissolved solids in steam to actually sit on the packs a bit longer, and thus stay there when it dries to become a stain," said Dewar.

Over the next two weeks the health region will be implementing a series of changes to remedy the steam issue.

"Things are slowly coming back to normal," said Dewar. "We hope by Monday to be at full volume at Pasqua Hospital, as well as start to process heavy (surgical) packs there as well."

Since the disruption began, there have been 177 surgical postponements and 34 procedural postponements.