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Cleanup from fire at Ottawa Hospital General Campus delaying surgeries this week


The Ottawa Hospital says it is still not at full power after a transformer in the hospital's hydro vault at the General Campus caught fire and it could be several days before things are back to normal.

This means that some appointments, clinics and surgeries at the hospital this week are in the process of being rescheduled.

In a statement Sunday afternoon, the Ottawa Hospital said it is working toward normal operations and its "Code Orange" remains in effect. Patients are still asked to avoid going to the General Campus for the time being.

"Patients have been relocated throughout the hospital, to ensure they continue to receive the care they need, and we have safely discharged many patients back into the community. Our teams continue to work on assessing and cleaning up the damage from the fire," said the email from spokesperson Michaela Schreiter.

The hospital also in a "Code Grey Power", as it waits for 100 per cent of electrical power to be restored.

"While a great deal of work is going into returning the hospital to normal operations, this may take several days," Schreiter's email said. "We are in the process of notifying patients about rescheduling appointments, clinics and surgeries for the upcoming week. We apologize for the frustration this may cause, and our teams will ensure all appointments are rescheduled as soon as possible."

Ottawa firefighters were called to the hospital Friday afternoon when the fire broke out. Nearly 100 patients had to be moved out of the hospital, including 17 babies in the neonatal ICU, who have since been taken to CHEO.

"These babies are at high risk for lots of things, even the stress of moving from completely different location to our NICU here," said registered nurse Amanda Elliot. "They did a great job and they all arrived safely and that’s always going to be the priority. Their safety."

Dr. Erika Bariciak, Ottawa Hospital General Campus and CHEO neonatologist, told CTV News Ottawa that preparations to move the babies began around midnight and was completed by 2 a.m. Saturday. It was dark and hot.

"We had some lighting in the hallways and we had patchy areas with a little bit of electricity, but mostly our babies had to be monitored on battery back up monitors," she said. "It became very hot in the unit. The usual ventilation system was no longer working and we were able to smell that there was smoke coming up to the eighth floor."

Firefighters carried the infants, some of which weighed just two pounds, down pitch black flights of stairs with headlamps for light.

"These babies, all of them are under two kilograms. The smaller and lighter the baby, the more care they needed. The smallest babies had difficulty maintaining their temperature," said Bariciak.

Hospital CEO Cameron Love told reporters on Saturday that there was considerable smoke and water damage, but no one was hurt. Floors four through eight were affected by the fire and smoke. Fighting the fire also caused water damage to parts of the hospital, Love said.

Other hospitals in Ottawa, including the Queensway Carleton Hospital and the Montfort Hospital warned patients that wait times would be longer.

Schreiter wrote that a "tremendous amount of hard work and coordination" have gone into efforts to return the General Campus to full capacity.

"Lab teams in particular went to great lengths to get things back up and running, despite being one of the areas hardest hit by the fire," she said. "Getting lab tests processed is one of the most important aspects to providing care, so the work they put into getting things back up and running quickly was essential to the hospital continuing to provide care."

Schreiter also said that the hospital is finalizing a hyperchlorination process following the identification of two cases of legionella last week.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Natalie van Rooy. Top Stories

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