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February 3, 2006

Fire temporarily shuts down OR at Aberdeen Hospital

New Glasgow, NS - A minor fire in a soiled utility closet in the Aberdeen Hospitalís operating room (OR) has resulted in the temporary closure of the operating room. Elective surgeries have been cancelled and all emergency surgeries diverted.

The fire was discovered at approximately 10:00 am today by operating room staff and was immediately contained and extinguished by staff. The New Glasgow Fire Department responded to the call. A single-use cautery device in a garbage container is believed to be the source of the fire. There was no physical damage done to the area and no patients needed to be evacuated.

At the time of the fire, two surgeries were underway and have since been completed without incident. The two patients have been moved to another area of the hospital for recovery. Four surgery cases were completed before the fire was discovered. The remaining 10 elective cases scheduled for today have been cancelled and will be rescheduled as soon as possible. The regular OR schedule will resume Monday at 8:00 am.

The operating room, which contains three theaters and a recovery area, will be closed until Monday morning. Over the weekend, the operating room will be thoroughly cleaned and equipment sterilized. As well, air testing will be conducted before the area reopens.

"Staff did an excellent job in containing the fire," said Pat Lee, chief executive officer of the Pictou County Health Authority. "They reacted calmly and appropriately to the situation. Their actions ensured that our patients were not in any danger."

Emergency surgeries and cesarean sections will be diverted to St. Martha's Regional Hospital in Antigonish, Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro, and the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax until the OR reopens on Monday.

"We regret the inconvenience this temporary closure may have on our patients and their families," said Mr. Lee.

"And we are grateful to our neighboring health authorities for assisting us during this emergency situation."

Mr. Lee also extended thanks to the New Glasgow Fire Department for their direction and guidance during the fire and afterwards in the debriefing for OR staff and physicians.

The health authority routinely conducts fire drills in all its buildings. The most recent fire drill was done three weeks ago in the area where today's fire occurred.

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Eileen MacIsaac
Public Relations, PCHA
752-7600, ext. 1124

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