All surgeries resume as water quality returns to normal

June 7, 2017

MEDICINE HAT — Alberta Health Services (AHS) has resumed all scheduled and elective surgeries at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital after correcting water-quality issues that affected the facility’s ability to reprocess and sterilize medical devices. 

“Our physicians and staff have worked extremely hard over the past four weeks to ensure we can safely resume using the water system used for medical device reprocessing,” says Katherine Chubbs, Chief Zone Officer for AHS South Zone. 

“We know this situation has been frustrating for our patients and we sincerely apologize. As we investigated, additional issues appeared: discoloured water, residue on equipment and fluctuating mineral levels. We employed different measures to address the symptoms as they appeared.” 

Particles in the water system were one of the root problems, which was addressed with new water filters. AHS determined the particles did not enter the hospital from the city water main but were present inside the facility’s water lines.

AHS is taking measures to prevent the particles from returning. The water system in the new ambulatory care wing is being flushed floor-by-floor and this work will take about six weeks to complete. Patient care will not be impacted.

The hospital started postponing elective surgeries May 9 after staff identified water-quality issues. Since then, 205 elective surgeries had been postponed. 

Of these patients, 193 have had their elective surgeries rescheduled, and AHS is working with surgeons to reschedule the remaining patients as soon as possible. Already 53 of those rescheduled surgeries have already been performed.

Over the past four weeks, the hospital has been using medical device reprocessing services from Brooks and Calgary to ensure emergency and urgent surgeries continue at the hospital without interruption. 

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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NOTE: Chief Zone Officer Katherine Chubbs will be available for media interviews at 12 p.m. at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. Please meet in the hospital atrium.

For media inquiries, contact:

James Frey, AHS Communications
587-220-11774 (cell)