Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Kyabram Hospital evacuated

Kyabram Hospital was evacuated on Saturday evening after an odour was noticed.

November 14, 2012 4:30am

New Kyabram and District Health Services chief executive Peter Abraham plans on improving quality and service.

Kyabram Hospital was evacuated on Saturday evening after an odour was noticed and 10 staff members had reported feeling ill.

KDHS chief executive Peter Abraham said the order to evacuate the hospital was given at 7pm.

‘‘Some of our staff noticed a different odour in different pockets around the building which seemed to be coming from the ducted air-conditioning system,’’ Mr Abraham said.

‘‘Ten of our staff members started feeling unwell, with nausea and headaches, mainly from the nursing and food services areas,’’ Mr Abraham said.

‘‘We didn’t know what was causing it and to avoid any risk to anyone, we decided to evacuate the hospital for precautionary reasons and notify all the relevant authorities.

‘‘Obviously it’s a big deal to evacuate a hospital.’’

Mr Abraham said no patients had been affected by the odour and once the evacuation order had been given, two patients requiring specific monitoring were transferred to Shepparton on medical advice.

Other patients were moved into the new 14-bed Sheridan aged-care facility.

‘‘We haven’t started occupying the new Sheridan area yet, but we do have a certificate of occupancy,’’ Mr Abraham said.

‘‘So we were able to relocate most of our patients to Sheridan and we set up a temporary urgent-care service to ensure we were able to maintain a service for the community.’’

Mr Abraham said CFA and Hazmat carried out tests on Saturday, all of which were negative.

All cleaning staff came in on Sunday to clean the hospital and an independent inspector was called in to monitor the air quality, and his tests also found nothing.

Mr Abraham said he was able to give the all-clear to return to the hospital building at 4pm on Sunday.

He said the symptoms experienced by staff members suggested the problem was due to an external contaminate, and although it had not been possible to confirm the source, it was expected to be a one-off occurrence.

‘‘We did an evaluation of the weekend on Monday morning. Obviously you never want to have to evacuate a hospital, but my assessment is that our processes and procedures worked well,’’ Mr Abraham said. ‘‘Our staff did a fantastic job throughout, I’m very proud of how they all handled it, and the community has been very understanding.

‘‘We were fortunate we had the Sheridan facility available otherwise more patients would have needed to be transferred, which would have required ambulances and additional nursing staff.

‘‘We had to cancel our theatre operations on Monday because we needed to make sure we could carry out a full clean in there, which we couldn’t do until Monday. But that’s the only service we’ve had to cancel and it reopened yesterday.’’

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