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Photo by Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator

Photo by Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator

The St. Joseph's Hospital ER has reopened to ambulatory patients.

UPDATED: St. Joes ER open for ambulatory patients

By Mike Pearson, news staff

St. Joseph’s Healthcare has reopened its emergency room to ambulatory patients only.

But the Charlton Avenue hospital is still without the use of its 12 operating rooms as staff continue to assess and clean up after a major flood on Wednesday.

“Today we’ll be opening our emergency department to ambulatory patients only. Patients who are able to walk into our emergency department will be able to today,” said Dr. David Higgins, president of St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

Higgins said the emergency department has been cleaned and is partially available for use. Elective surgeries remain cancelled.

No estimated dollar value was available for the damages.

“Work is going on all night in terms of our testing and refurbishing,” said Higgins. “I can’t comment further on the details of that.”

Higgins said St. Joseph’s is working on restoring its operating room capacity by next week.

“That’s going to be a day-by-day determination,” said Higgins.

In Wednesday’s incident, a pipe burst on the second floor of the two-and-a-half-year-old St. Joseph’s surgical tower around 6:45 a.m.  resulting in structural or equipment damage in all 12 operating rooms.

Higgins said hospital officials have isolated the origin of the problem.

“We know where the pipe leaked from and at this point we don’t anticipate any more issues,” said Higgins.

Higgins said hospital staff are assessing drywall damage to the Charlton campus, but sophisticated damage on levels one and two of the building will require detailed analysis. Staff are reviewing ductwork, electronics and equipment in surgical suites.

“Some of it passes the eyeball test, but that’s not good enough,” said Higgins.

The hospital typically handles 30 to 40 surgeries per day.

Higgins said the hospital hopes to resume performing elective surgeries by the weekend or early next week.

Brenda Flaherty, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hamilton Health Sciences, said HHS has 30 operating rooms, plus additional specialized operating rooms.

Flaherty said HHS cancelled its scheduled activity to ensure its emergency rooms at Juravinski Hospital, Hamilton General and McMaster Children’s Hospital had sufficient capacity.

“We had beds at the Juravinski and the General to admit patients,” she said.

Flaherty said HHS will continue with some scheduled surgeries on Friday, including same-day admissions or those who require only one-night stays. Urgent and emergency cases will be prioritized.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Juravinski Cancer Centre also dealt with flooding problems when a pipe ruptured around 5 p.m. in the third floor administrative area resulting in a large gush of water that went through the ceilings and down the stairwells affecting the chemotherapy suite on the second floor, the patient assessment area on the first floor and the ground floor radiation unit.

Hospital officials there did not find evidence of any equipment damage.

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