Flood continues to affect hospital services

Cleanup to continue Thursday
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Contributed Photo Employees inside ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano are shown cleaning up from flood damage that has displaced patients and postponed services.

Contributed Photo A corridor inside ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano shows small areas of standing water after Tuesday’s flood inside the hospital.

Surgeries and other patient services were being postponed Wednesday at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano as crews spent a second day cleaning up from a flood.

Officials said patients had been transferred to other hospitals from the emergency room, while the flood also prompted postponement of non-emergency surgeries, tests and treatments.

A monthly blood drive also was canceled Wednesday because of the flooding.

Although the hospital and adjoining clinic remain open, officials said they expect disruptions to continue Thursday while crews assess the damage caused by a fire hydrant that malfunctioned.

ThedaCare spokeswoman Megan Mulholland said the flooding hit the hospital laboratory and imaging center, both on the first floor of the medical center at 100 County Road B. The damage involved about one-third of the hospital’s first floor, with no damage reported in the clinic.

“It’s not a huge section of the hospital,” Mulholland said, “but it’s a vital section.”

Operations also cannot return to normal until testing is complete on water supplies in the building to ensure no contamination has affected water used to sterilize medical instruments, Mulholland said.

“We want to make sure everything is up to par,” she said.

Shawano city officials said tests have indicated that the incident caused no loss of water pressure to the hospital, making it unlikely that any contamination occurred.

The fire hydrant malfunctioned about 10 a.m. Tuesday near the hospital’s main entrance, causing water to flood into the building.

Hospital spokeswoman Carol Ryczek said contractors have removed all the standing water and were working Wednesday to gauge the extent of damage to walls, floors and elsewhere. Crews and employees also were working to clean hospital equipment from the flooded areas.

“They’ve made good progress,” Ryczek said.

Officials could not estimate how many patients were displaced, but they said the hospital had rescheduled or relocated appointments Wednesday and Thursday for elective surgeries, MRIs, chemotherapy treatments, cardiac stress tests and other services. Sixteen patients were transferred to other hospitals from the emergency room, either because of the flooding or because of their medical conditions.

ThedaCare, based in Appleton, opened the 128,000-square-foot hospital in September after investing about $50 million to bring updated and expanded services to the Shawano area.

In a prepared statement issued Wednesday, the hospital said that while the facility remains open “there are limitations on the services provided.”

The Blood Center of North Central Wisconsin on Wednesday canceled a monthly blood drive at the hospital, citing the flooding problem.

Becky Bremer, spokeswoman for the blood center, said the event generally attracts between 35 and 50 blood donors. Organizers were urging donors to make their donations elsewhere or to come back to the Shawano hospital for the next drive, scheduled for Sept. 14.

“It’s unfortunate,” Bremer said of the flood. “But these situations happen.”

ThedaCare officials said bottled water was being used for all purposes throughout the hospital and clinic until public health tests show that the property’s water supply is clean and safe. Test results were expected by Thursday.

Shawano City Administrator Brian Knapp said city public works crews drew water samples at the hospital and found that there was no loss of water pressure from the incident. That makes it highly unlikely that tests will show any sign of contamination, Knapp said.

“We don’t believe there’s any reason for concern on our part,” he said.