It was calm Friday at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital's emergency department.

But Thursday, it was a different story as an over-capacity alert was issued to staff for the first time.

“We were in a state of total chaos,” said Dr. Margaret Fraser. “There was no room to see anybody. There were patients in every available hallway space.”

By early Friday, the capacity alert was lifted, but not before plenty of reaction.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston stopped by the hospital during a visit to Cape Breton Island Friday.

“If they can lift it and get things under control for the moment, that's a good thing,” Houston said. “But really, the crisis is getting worse and worse around the province. We know we have doctors leaving, psychiatrists leaving.”

NDP Health Critic Tammy Martin called for a long-term solution.

“What is the resolve?” Martin said. “Or did they just put a Band-Aid on the overcapacity situation yesterday?  I'd like to know what the plan is.”

The health authority says clearing the capacity took careful juggling, including moving some patients to beds in their home hospitals and sending others home.

“Fortunately, we were able to identify enough beds from the admitted patients and overnight, and were able to make sure that patients who were able to be discharged were discharged,” said Nova Scotia Health Authority spokesman Greg Boone.

They managed this despite the fact 24 in-patient beds at Glace Bay Hospital remain empty because doctors withdrew their services from the beds over pay inequity.

Thursday, Labour Relations Minister Mark Furey said an offer of $51,000 per doctor, per year is on the table for physicians in Glace Bay.

Today, the bargaining agent for those doctors disputes that.    

“There's still a difference in pay,” said Kevin Chapman of Doctors Nova Scotia.“Between a physician taking care of patients in Sydney - at the regional - and a physician in Glace Bay.  So, while there certainly was an investment, physicians deemed that that investment didn't provide equity.”

Now,hospital staff have their fingers crossed heading into the weekend when emergency rooms are typically busiest.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.