SUDBURY -- In Health Science North's first COVID outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic nearly a year ago, two hospital staff and three patients have the disease.

The outbreak led the hospital to cancel 55 non-urgent surgeries planned for this week.

“We did have to make the difficult decision to slow down the surgical ramp up as a precautionary measure,” said Mark Hartman, senior vice-president of patient experience at HSN.

“If we can’t flow patients throughout the system through the inpatient units, we do end up with a backlog in the emergency department."

Nickel Belt MPP and NDP health critic France Gelinas told CTV News she is receiving plenty of calls from upset patients.

“They’ve been on the waitlist for six months, eight months," Gelinas said. "Once they do get a date, then it gets cancelled or postponed, it’s like they’ve put in all this work to have the babysitter, the dog sitter, the time off work, and then the surgery gets cancelled.”

“You’re talking with people that are in pain, that are waiting for surgery. Then you add those layers of stress, and they can’t handle it anymore,” added Gelinas.

Currently, the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting two hallways on the hospital's sixth floor. HSN has added extra precautionary measures to try and contain the outbreak.

“The entire sixth floor of the south tower is now being restricted to new admissions,” said Hartman.

“Visitor restrictions are in place across Health Sciences North, with only designated care partners allowed … As an additional measure, there are no designated care partners allowed on the sixth floor south tower during the outbreak.”

Hartman praised HSN staff working on the sixth floor who are dealing with the outbreak.

“They’re having to wear full personal protective equipment all shift, which is hot, difficult and awkward," he said. "There’s no doubt there’s increased anxiety for staff and their well-being, but also for their families.”

Despite some surgeries being cancelled, all other clinics and procedures at HSN are continuing as normal.

Hartman said HSN staff are encouraging people to access the hospital if needed saying, “It’s still a safe place to be.”