Salem hospital’s ER damaged

SALEM – A possible weather-related incident flooded the emergency department at Salem Regional Medical Center Tuesday morning, not with patients but with water.

Michele Hoffmeister, SRMC director of public relations, said a waterline in the ambulance entrance vestibule ceiling froze and broke, causing minor flooding of the ambulance entrance and a room used by emergency medical services personnel to complete paperwork.

“The water spilled over into three treatment bays in the emergency department, but the Salem Fire Department and Salem Regional Medical Center’s plant operations and housekeeping staff worked quickly to stop the flow of water,” she said.

Salem firefighters were called to the scene at 6:20 a.m. for a fire alarm related to a water situation. The fire department report said large quantities of water were flowing from the ceiling on the outside canopy over the ambulance entrance at the emergency department.

Maintenance personnel were on the scene attempting to stop the flow of water. A salvage and overhaul operation was started to stop the water that was running through the emergency department. A fire pump was used to shut down the main waterline that feeds the sprinkler system from the municipal supply.

The flow stopped and the firefighters continued to assist hospital staff with water removal.

To allow time for clean up and repair of the area, Hoffmeister said a pre-established protocol to divert ambulances to other area hospitals was initiated until noon Tuesday.

“Patient care was not compromised, and all patients arriving at SRMC during the diversion received care,” she said.

As for weather-related injuries, she said one person was treated for shortness of breath that occurred when an in-home oxygen concentrator failed due to a power outage.

Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott reported no major incidents related to the weather as of Tuesday afternoon.

With warmer temperatures expected today, most area schools were set for a two-hour delay this morning after spending Monday and Tuesday at home for what became an extended holiday break due to the frigid cold.

The National Weather Service downgraded the wind chill warning that had been in effect to a wind chill advisory until 9 a.m. today.