MONTREAL -- Lachine Hospital has closed its five operating rooms and cancelled dozens of elective surgeries after an equipment malfunction sent humidity levels spiking as high as 98 per cent.

Darren Becker, associate director of communications for the McGill University Health Centre, on Thursday confirmed the closings and said that 70 elective surgeries - 31 Wednesday and 39 on Thursday - have been cancelled as a result.

"The operating rooms of the Lachine Hospital have been closed since yesterday morning due to a problem with the humidifier of the ventilation system, necessitating the suspension of activities in this area of the hospital," Becker said, noting that in addition to the ORs, the recovery room and a sterilization room were also closed due to the malfunction.

"An inspection of the rooms is currently underway to assess the damage," Becker said. "Corrective work will be done so the operating rooms can be reopened as quickly as possible. All affected patients have been notified and urgent cases will be transferred to the Montreal General Hospital."

Becker said the MUHC is still evaluating the extent of the damage caused by the malfunction. "Once we have a  clearer picture of the type and scope of work that needs to be done we will have a better idea of when the ORs can reopen.

This week's equipment malfunction and OR closings come just weeks after Lachine Hospital announced it was closing its emergency rooms over the holiday period due to a staffing shortage.