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Ohio hospitals see patient increase after water ban

A number of people who said they ingested some of the tainted water were treated for diarrhea, nausea and vomiting

By Marlene Harris-Taylor
The Blade

TOLEDO, Ohio — As the Toledo area tries to get back to normal following the water crisis, the local hospital systems also spent Monday implementing plans to resume using city water.

ProMedica, which followed the recommendation of the Ohio Department of Health and canceled all elective surgeries on Monday, said it was on track to resume normal operations today and that hospital representatives would contact patients to reschedule elective procedures that were canceled.

ProMedica Toledo Hospital, ProMedica Flower Hospital, and ProMedica St. Luke’s Hospital were in the area affected by the water ban. Hospital workers had to flush out the drinking water systems, as well as sanitation machines used to sterilize medical equipment, said Bryan Biggie the ProMedica system disaster coordinator.

“According to regulatory guidelines you have to flush them [the sanitation machines] three times for 15 minutes apiece, and then there is a standard biological test to look for organisms after the flushing, and that’s what we are currently doing,” Mr. Biggie said.

Mr. Biggie said the hospital also saw an increase in visits to the emergency departments from people who said they had ingested some of the tainted water. Between Saturday and Monday, ProMedica Toledo Hospital and ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital treated 93 cases of diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, ProMedica Flower Hospital treated 20 such cases, and ProMedica St. Luke’s Hospital also had 20 cases of people showing those same symptoms in the emergency department.

Mercy officials also spent Monday getting the affected hospitals, Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Mercy St. Anne Hospital, and Mercy Emergency Services in Perrysburg, back online using tap water for medical procedures. Unlike ProMedica, Mercy hospitals did not cancel elective surgeries.

Mercy officials said they did not want to interrupt procedures planned for patients so they shipped out medical equipment to be sterilized at hospitals that were not in areas affected by the water crisis.

Mercy hospitals also saw a spike in patients who came in the hospital ER’s expressing concern about ingesting water and displaying some of the symptoms. The ER at Mercy St. Anne Hospital treated about 18 people, while some 16 patients went to Mercy St. Charles Hospital. Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Mercy’s largest ER in Toledo, treated 29 patients, and three people sought help at the stand-alone emergency services facility in Perrysburg.

A spokesman for University of Toledo Medical Center said workers planned to flush the water systems at both the hospital campus and main campus in West Toledo on Monday.

Officials at the former Medical College of Ohio could not be reached to provide updated information on the number of patients that visited the Emergency Department with water-related problems.


©2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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