it room

Memorial Hospital facilities manager Doug Walrath looks at computer servers in the IT room after it was shut down from water damage Friday. An outside drain frozen from the recent sub-zero temperatures caused flooding throughout the primary care building. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — Memorial Hospital hoped to have operations mostly back to normal by the start of the week, following flooding in its primary care Myles E. Waltz Medical Office Building overnight into Friday.

The water damaged the North Conway hospital's computer data center and resulted in interruptions to service across the organization.

Kathy Bennett, vice president of community relations and development at the hospital said the flooding was caused by a frozen parking lot drain that plugged an 8-inch pipe and led to water backing up in a sink that then overflowed into the primary-care practice and into the data center on the lower level of the medical office building.

The North Conway Fire Department was called in to turn off water to the building as a precaution. Electricity was also turned off.

Power and water were restored by Friday afternoon, Bennett said.

"Our target goal is to have our electronic health records available by Monday, but all is subject to change," said Bennett, saying the public can go on the hospital website, memorialhospitalnh.org/breakingnews, to find updates throughout the weekend.

She said no electronic data were lost.

"We are in the process of getting new computers and servers delivered, and that will take several days to get that restoration, but the equipment is on its way," said Bennett.

She said that without use of the electronic medical records system, Memorial is using what is known as “down-time procedures,” a standard operating procedure that is used in instances like this.

It allows for continued medical care in the event of an emergency, but it does limit access to patient information such as stored lab or imaging results.

The flooding resulted in loss of access to the hospital’s electronic medical records system throughout the facility, as well as access to running water in the medical office building, where primary care, women’s health, diabetes, pulmonary, ophthalmology and optician services are located.

In order to continue services where possible, care locations were moved to other locations on the hospital campus that were unaffected by the water damage.  

This will be done on a case-by-case basis, as some appointments couldn't take place without access to the electronic medical records.

The operating room canceled Friday’s elective surgeries but will be available for emergency surgeries.

"For primary care patients, the plan is that they will be able to use the center starting Monday, except for the central pod, which was affected," said Bennett. "We will be moving our care providers around the primary care center."

She credited Memorial's staff and volunteers for their professionalism in dealing with the situation and MaineHealth, which assigned people from their regional teams to help restore and divert computer services, as well as the North Conway Fire Department, town officials, and Federal Piping, ServiceMaster and DW Electric for their prompt response, as well as patients for their understanding.

"Everyone has been wonderful to work with," she said.

Unaffected services included: Memorial’s emergency room and walk-in care center, which were open Friday as usual; lab and imaging services; patients receiving IV treatment, including chemotherapy; outpatient physical therapy appointments, which are in a separate building and have a separate electronic health records system.

Patients should anticipate some delay in processing due to down-time procedures and an inability to reschedule appointments until the electronic medical records system is up and running again.

On Friday, hospital personnel, including some nurses were stationed at various points near the entrance to the medical building, directing people to appointments, as well as in the lobby of the hospital.

A sign was put up in the entrance lobby, stating, “Patients and Visitors: Please stop at the information desk. Thank you.”

John Knieriem, volunteer greeter, said that most people had been understanding about the situation.

The hospital dedicated the Myles E. Waltz Medical Center building in September 2016 after a $3.5 million building renovation project that was completed that summer. It was hailed at the dedication ceremony by President and CEO Scott McKinnon as the biggest project to have been completed at Memorial in years. General contractor was Langford and Low General Contractors of Portland.

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