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Patients moved, appointments cancelled after fire at Listowel Memorial Hospital

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Fire broke out at Listowel Memorial Hospital on Tuesday morning, and while no one was hurt, appointments were cancelled and some patients had to be moved to other hospitals.

“We had a small electrical fire within a construction area on the second floor,” explained Karl Ellis, president and CEO of the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance.

Crews from the North Perth Fire Department were called to the area at 9:28 a.m. and managed to contain the flames to the room where the fire started.

Patients on both the first and second floors were brought to a safe area on the ground level and, while the fire was put out quickly, concerns about air quality and smoke damage meant 29 in-patients had to be moved.

“These are the most vulnerable patients and we want to make sure the air quality and the environment is safe to care for them,” Ellis told CTV News.

Five patients were discharged from the hospital so they could go home or to a long-term care or a retirement residence. The remaining 24 patients were taken to one of seven other community hospitals.

“We've got great support from our neighbouring hospitals: the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, the Wingham and District Hospital, and the Wellington Health Care Alliance – so Palmerston, Fergus and Mount Forest,” Ellis explained.

Most importantly, he said, was that no one was hurt in the fire. Ellis credits the hospital’s monthly Code Red drills which meant staff were well prepared to respond in an emergency.

“Our staff did an amazing job at both staying safe themselves but taking care of patients at the same time.”

The hospital’s emergency room remained open on Tuesday, but only for the most urgent cases; people with non-urgent concerns were asked to seek care elsewhere.

Appointments for procedures, imaging or to see specialists at the hospital were cancelled for the day.

“We really apologize for the inconvenience,” Ellis added. “I know patients, some of them had prepped for procedures and things today that just weren’t able to happen.”

He said ambulatory care and diagnostic imaging appointments will resume Wednesday, while operating rooms will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Patients whose appointments were cancelled will be contacted by the hospital to reschedule.

Air quality testing and restoration work is underway, but Ellis said the hospital doesn’t anticipate having full access to the inpatient beds for several weeks.

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