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March 7, 2009
For immediate release

Services Returning to Normal at Community Hospital O’Leary after Emergency Situation

Health

Hospital staff and administration at Community Hospital O'Leary are working hard to resume normal operations after an emergency situation on Friday. Eight inpatients who were transferred to Western Hospital in Alberton will be returning to Community Hospital on Sunday, and the Urgent Care Centre at Community Hospital O’Leary will reopen to the public on Monday.

Late Friday morning, staff at the Community Hospital O’Leary detected a strong odour during regular maintenance on hospital boilers. The O’Leary fire department and the provincial hazardous materials response team were called to the scene.

“Everyone acted very promptly and the transfer of eight patients to Western Hospital went very smoothly,” said Doug Currie, Minister of Health. “I would like to commend staff, patients, families, emergency responders, media and the general public for their cooperation and quick response in managing this situation to ensure that patients and staff were safe. I am confident that the situation was managed well and patient and staff safety was our top priority.”

Due to a strong odour in the building, eight patients were transferred to Western Hospital in Alberton on Friday and one patient was transferred to the long-term care section of hospital. The 24 long-term care residents were also able to remain in the Margaret Stewart Ellis wing, which was not affected by the chemical odour and was effectively sealed off from the rest of the building by fire officials.

Hospital and fire department officials assessed the situation and confirmed that the chemical odour was caused by hydrochloric acid, which was being used to clean the hospital’s boilers. It is believed that the odour got into the hospital air exchange system.

“We are still trying to determine how the smell migrated from the boiler room into the air exchange,” said David Blacquiere, the province’s Fire Marshal. “Every effort will be made to explore ways in which we can more effectively isolate operational activity inside the mechanical room where these support systems are maintained.“

“Community Hospital O’Leary will remain closed on Saturday to allow for cleaning,” said Cecil Villard, Director of Community Hospitals and Continuing Care. “Patients who were transferred to Western Hospital late Friday afternoon will return back to Community Hospital on Sunday.”

Residents of West Prince who require health care services should go to Western Hospital in Alberton or the Prince County Hospital in Summerside. The Urgent Care Centre will reopen to the public Monday morning.

The Department of Health and the Fire Marshall’s office and other agencies will be reviewing all aspects of the situation to determine what went well and where improvements could be made.

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Media Contact: Laura Jones
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