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Local hospitals try to preserve water

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston and Saint Francis Hospital in Charleston asked people not to come to the hospitals this morning except for "critical or urgent situations."

"But right now, we're not turning anyone away," said Paige Johnson, a spokeswoman for both hospitals.

The hospitals have stockpiled a two- to three-day supply of bottled water, said Johnson, speaking from Thomas' emergency command center.

As of noon Friday, no patients had been admitted to Thomas or Saint Francis because of complications or sickness from contaminated water. But both hospitals' emergency departments were busier than normal.

"We starting to see an uptick in the ER," Johnson said.

Charleston Area Medical Center had four patients stay overnight for observation after they were admitted with symptoms that could be related to the chemical leak, hospital spokesman Dale Witte said. A few others came to the emergency room. Witte said he wasn't sure if the water was the cause.

Trucks of water arrived at the hospital early Friday morning.

"What we decided to do is do inventory on supplies and because it's so up in the air we started conserving water immediately," Witte said. "We use a lot of water from cooking to cleaning to drinking, washing instruments and bed pillows."

CAMC's Charleston facilities are sterilizing instruments at CAMC in Teays Valley, he said. The hospitals are also having to clean their bed linens elsewhere.

The hospital's cafeteria has remained on a limited basis and with the use of disposable plates and utensils, he said.

CAMC canceled elective surgeries for Friday, and staff members who don't work directly with patients were also asked to stay home Friday, Witte said.

"We wanted to be able to have as much resources available to the patients and those taking care of the patients as possible," he said.


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