How black dust turned strangers into a team

January 19, 2017

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How black dust turned strangers into a team

A fan belt failure forcing black dust through a portion of the Pasqua Hospital’s ventilation system last week affected employees in a way nobody could have predicted.

Dr. Kathy M from infection control identifying the issue of black dust.

A fan belt failure forcing black dust through a portion of the Pasqua Hospital’s ventilation system last week affected employees in a way nobody could have predicted.  

It happened on Jan. 9 when a fan belt supporting the ventilation system in the medical equipment sterilization area failed, leaving small particles of debris on the already-sterilized tools. The equipment was contaminated and could not be used for patient care or surgery. 

“We noticed the debris and determined the source mid-day on Jan. 9. Immediately we canceled dozens of surgeries and procedures at the Pasqua Hospital and moved some to the General,” Barbara Neumann, Director of Surgical Access and Inpatient Services Neumann said.

The situation was urgent. Before surgeries could take place the area needed to be cleaned, equipment sterilized and the fan belt fixed, and the clock was ticking. Every hour that went by meant postponing procedures leaving patients disappointed and inconvenienced while also increasing system costs.

Staff realized the pressing nature of the situation and rallied.

“How quickly everyone came to the table to address and resolve the problem was fantastic,” said Neumann. “Everyone pitched in wherever they could.”

What could have been a very stressful situation became an opportunity for colleagues to learn from each other. In one instance, employees who don’t normally handle the sterilized equipment prepared trays for surgeries.

 

A huge thanks to everyone

Hundreds of trays had to be resterilized. Everything that was down in the area.

The group was diverse: employees from the medical diagnostic reprocessing department, housekeeping, facilities, operating room staff, operating room scheduling and infection control all played a role in resolving the issue.

Neumann applauds all involved for coming together as a team.

“How quickly everyone came to the table to try to address and resolve the problem was just fantastic.

“Thanks to the dedicated work of staff and managers, working overnight and into the morning, we were able to resume surgeries the very next day,” Neumann said. “This group has a dedication to ensuring high quality, safe patient care that deserves all the recognition it can get. I would like to thank everyone for their amazing work.”

In the end, 60 surgeries and 25 procedures were postponed because of the issue. The surgeries and procedures were all elective, and involved orthopedics, urology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and general surgery patients.

 
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