On Sat. Feb. 10, at 1:00 p.m. St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof suffered water damage as a result of flooding from a hot water heater breach which immediately closed a quarter of the facility until further notice.
The hospital was put on temporary diversion for a couple of hours during active flooding on Saturday afternoon while several doctors, nurses and hospital staff who voluntarily abandoned their lunch, rushed to work to dry off equipment and help mop up six inches of water in their gum boots on the Family Day long weekend.
According to April Hughes, St. John Hospital Health Services Administrator, the disruption is limited to surgery and maternity delivery services. She told Black Press that patients expecting a baby should seek instructions from their physician and patients with elective surgery over the next four weeks will need to be rebooked.
1/4 hospital closed
Eventhough very large areas of two floors were impacted, closing 2,000 sq ft of the 8,000 sq ft facility, a press release Northern Health issued on Wed. Feb. 14, advised Vanderhoof and area residents that St. John Hospital remains open. The emergency department, inpatient areas, oncology services, laboratory and medical imaging departments are still fully operational. Patients are able to continue accessing these services as they normally would.
Water heater breach
“The source was from a breached hot water heater and a massive amount of water flooded part of the second floor. It went through the walls and heating system, and then it all came down to the first floor, it migrated down, even after they got the valves shut off the water was still moving.”
“At the moment we are down a delivery room, labour room, operating room, post anesthesia recovery room area and in addition, hallways, change rooms and bathrooms have also been impacted.”
With regard to impact on patients in the hospital at the time, no one was displaced and “We are really lucky in some ways that this did occur on the weekend so the operating room was not in use,” says Hughs.
Northern Health says it is working closely with care providers to communicate with impacted patients, and to minimize any disruption in services. Physicians will notify any patients whose scheduled procedures or other appointments will need to be rescheduled, as the hospital’s operating rooms and maternity department are among areas of the hospital that experienced water damage.
“Some maternity patients may be advised to go to Prince George ahead of time. There isn’t one instruction for all as every pregnancy is different, the risk level of each is different and all kinds of situations can arise. So every pregnant person is going to have to be in contact with their doctor to get instructions,” says Hughs.
“It’s an evolving situation because a lot of the remediation is based on how quickly certain building materials dry. It’s going to take a bit of time even before the flood mitigation contractors are able to tell us what needs fixing or replacing and when we can reopen what’s okay. It’s still a bit of a mystery for us and it’s frustrating for everyone. At this point we are relying on our contractors. Our bio-medical engineers have to review all of our equipment and we have to look at the internal wiring systems.”
Northern Health has an insurance process that they are currently engaged in. “The contract for the remediation work has been awarded so permit and work planning is underway. We have a number of site meetings and inspections that will occur over the next few days that will strengthen time lines. We are still in the assessment phase and we hope to be able to provide the community with additional specifics as soon as the information becomes available to us,” says Hughs.
Patients need patience
”We appreciate the patience of patients, visitors and our staff, as we recover from this unexpected incident.”