Saskatoon City Hospital will remain under a boil water order following water quality issues in the building Monday evening.
The order means no tap water is to be consumed within the building, nor used for instrument cleaning or food preparation.
Dr. Johnmark Opondo, deputy medical health officer for the Saskatoon health region, spoke with media Tuesday. He said hospital staff first noticed yellow-coloured water running from the faucets around 3 p.m. on Nov. 14.
Eight hours later, the boil water order came down – allowing the health region to formalize emergency measures and postpone surgeries.
“There was no clear-cut answer as to why this was happening,” Opondo said, adding that since the taps were left running overnight, all discolouration has dissipated.
By chance, routine water samples had been taken earlier in the day. Another round was taken around 11 p.m. Results of those samples are expected sometime Tuesday afternoon, and will be compared to help determine what caused the quality issues.
According to the health region, no similar water issues were reported from any neighbouring properties. Additionally, no infrastructure projects are believed to have played a role in the water quality.
Once the problem was noticed, emergency supplies, including bottled water, were distributed to all units and departments for patients and staff or drinking, cleaning and food preparation.
The boil water order does not affect toilet use or hand washing.
Saskatoon City Hospital remains open for all non-invasive procedures and appointments – including the emergency department – but as a result of the order, 38 surgeries scheduled for Tuesday were postponed.
“Water is a very important part in the surgical process. We clean our instruments, we sterilize things through reprocessing – so that was definitely impacted,” said Cindy Graham, director of surgical services for the Saskatoon Health Region.
Additional procedures, including endoscopies, have also been postponed until further notice.
Graham said the hospital did proceed Tuesday with highly-urgent surgeries and some cancer cases.
As for those awaiting surgery Wednesday, the health region is currently looking at other options for highly-urgent patients if the boil water order persists. Part of the plan is possibly moving them to other medical facilities.
“If we have the ability to provide that service at another site, we will do that,” she said.
The health region will contact any patients impacted by the order; however, issues arose Monday night when some people didn’t have appropriate contact information.
Graham said through it all, patients have been understanding.
“We talked through the frustrations – you put a lot of plans in place, it’s a big decision to go forward and have surgery,” she said.
Anyone who is unsure if their scheduled procedure is still taking place should call 306-655-8231 to confirm.
– With files from Chris Vandenbreekel.