Saskatoon City Hospital is back to normal operations. A boil water order placed on the facility on Monday night was lifted at 11 a.m. this morning after two clear results of water testing were received.
“We had two clear tests of the water supply, taken 24 hours apart, so Public Health is satisfied that the water is safe to consume and for use throughout the hospital,” states Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Deputy Medical Health Officer.
The hospital identified possible water quality issues late on November 14, at which point bottled water was immediately put in use. Later that day, the building was put under a boil water order to ensure the safety of everyone on site. The order required bottled water for drinking and potable water for food preparation throughout the hospital, some non-urgent medical procedures were also postponed, and this meant that some surgeries could not be performed.
It is believed a corroded pipe was the source of the water quality issue. The pipe was identified and replaced late Tuesday, and a full flush of the hospital’s water system occurred Wednesday morning. After the system was flushed, fresh test samples of the water were taken, and a second test sample was taken at approximately noon on Thursday. It was initially believed that it would take until Saturday afternoon to receive the results of the tests, but the Saskatchewan Research Council lab was able to prioritize the process, which meant results were available sooner than expected.
The results show that the water is clear, there are no chemical or biological issues with it, and it safe for consumption and use.
“We are extremely happy to be able to get back to normal operations today,” says Karen Newman, site leader for Saskatoon City Hospital. “While we realize that this was a huge inconvenience, we decided on the side of caution to ensure the safety of our patients and staff. We are happy that the results of the water quality testing mean that we can resume normal operations immediately.”
Due to the water quality issue this week, in total, 113 non-urgent surgeries at Saskatoon City Hospital were postponed, the majority related to gynecology, orthopedics, plastic surgery and ophthalmology. Some ambulatory procedures were also postponed, including 129 endoscopies.
The Region is working closely with surgeon and physician offices to reschedule patients for their surgeries and procedures as soon as possible. Some surgeries have already been rescheduled and the rest will be rescheduled in the coming months.
Even while the boil water order was in effect, Saskatoon City Hospital remained open for all non-invasive procedures and appointments. All emergency and urgent surgeries were accommodated safely using potable water brought to the site.
“We want to sincerely thank everyone for their patience this week. We appreciate the understanding of patients who have had their care delayed, and hope to accommodate the needs of each of those affected as soon as possible,” says Newman. “We also want to express our appreciation to our physicians, their offices, and our staff – both at this hospital and throughout the Region - for their patience and understanding as we worked through this issue. They have shown great flexibility and adaptability dealing with the impact of this water quality issue and have ensured the continued safety of everyone within the hospital.”
The Region also wants to thank our partners at the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Research Council water lab for their cooperation in the investigation and resolution of this issue.
With the boil water order lifted, staff will use the weekend to prepare equipment and resources for normal operations on Monday. In coordination with Public Health, the Region’s maintenance teams and external partners will be continuing to monitor routine testing of water quality in this health care facility.
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