Fire forces temporary closure of CCH dialysis unit

St. Stephen – Thirteen dialysis patients will, for the next two days, receive their treatments in Sussex and Saint John after fire damaged a dialysis unit at the Charlotte County Hospital Tuesday night.

Brenda Kinney, executive director Saint John area for Horizon Health Network, said the dialysis unit at the hospital is temporarily closed because of the significant damage sustained in the fire.

There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration, said Kinney, but depending on if the primary machine is undamaged and the manufacturers can provide another back up, accompanying unit, the dialysis unit at CCH may be up and running again by Friday.

The fire is believed to have started in the electrical panel of a six year old “slave” or back up unit for a reverse osmosis machine which assists in the purification of water used to run the dialysis machine.

Kinney said clinical engineering staff was on site Wednesday morning to assess whether the main dialysis unit suffered any damage and were checking the functionality of it and other equipment nearby.

There is no waiting list for dialysis treatment at CCH said Kinney.

There are currently 13 patients undergoing dialysis at CCH and, each patient undergoes dialysis depending on what their treatment needs are and how many days of the week they need the procedure. The unit operates six days a week.

On Wednesday morning, Kinney stated: “We’ve had the nephrologist assess the patients who needed treatments today and tomorrow. Only two patients will travel today to the Regional and 11 tomorrow will be divided between the Sussex Health Centre and the Regional.”

Kinney said transportation will be provided to those patients, with the cost covered by Horizon Health, “unless they want to go on their own.” Those who need to travel for treatment have all been notified of their options she said.

Cost of replacing the burned back up machine was not known at press time. Kinney said it is not “salvageable” and “is not a cheap machine.”

Kinney reinforced what she described as the wonderful response of the St. Stephen and Calais Fire Departments to the hospital noting the ongoing communication with the facility staff during the incident was “outstanding.”

“The outcome was not as bad as it could have been,” she stated soberly.

The fire departments were called out around 5:50 p.m. Kinney said switchboard staff noticed the pre-alarm fire alarm and notified a security officer at the hospital who went to the third floor, with some other nursing staff, to investigate. Their quick action alerted the fire department which responded immediately.

Kinney said patients on the second floor were gathered in the activity room and two patients on the first floor in the east wing palliative care area were moved to other rooms on that floor as a precaution.

None of the patients suffered any ill effects from any smoke which might have made its way to the first and second floors.

Kinney said one of the nursing staff, an orderly, who responded to the fire Tuesday night, was still having respiratory issues Wednesday when he reported to work. He has an underlying condition, said Kinney. The orderly was sent home to rest for a couple of days.
Air quality testing was being conducted throughout the hospital Wednesday.

The Diabetes Education Clinic also located on the third floor will be held in another area of the hospital. For more information on these services, contact the Charlotte County Hospital at 465-4444.