Bat Colony Forces Patients From Hospital
As a precautionary measure, 14 patients were transferred to FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst over the weekend so work could continue to remove a bat colony from the walls of FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham.
The decision to temporarily discontinue inpatient care was made last Friday following consultation with The Joint Commission (TJC), an independent organization that accredits and certifies health care organizations and programs.
It also followed a period of extensive eradication efforts by Get Bats Out, a professional bat removal service.
“Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our patients, families, visitors, and employees,” Gretchen Kelly, FirstHealth public relations director, said in a statement. “We are making every effort to accommodate all those affected by this event. ”
The 14 patients were transported Friday evening by FirstHealth EMS staff to a hospital of their choice. FirstHealth administration and medical staff coordinated patient transfers with area hospitals. The emergency department at Richmond Memorial remained open to walk-in patients, but those being transported by ambulances were taken directly to another area hospital.
While Richmond Memorial continued to provide diagnostic services necessary to support patients in the emergency department, scheduled outpatient diagnostic procedures were postponed or rescheduled at other area hospitals.
Some of the hospital employees scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday in areas of Richmond Memorial temporarily closed were offered the opportunity to work at Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. On Friday, Richmond Memorial staff contacted the Richmond County Health Department to conduct a thorough inspection of the facility to determine if the facility posed a risk to staff and patient health.
The local health department staff teamed with hospital staff to thoroughly inspect all air handling units, intakes and returns, all rooftop areas, patient rooms, offices, common areas, laundry, food service, unused facility space, elevator shafts, stairwells, interior ceiling tiles and numerous other areas of the facility.
Health department staff consulted with the professional bat removal staff on site that also conducted an inspection of the facility. The bat removal company explained their strategic plan to alleviate any and all bats and their harborages from the facility as well as their plan for refusal of access.
After conducting the inspection, it was determined that there was no evidence of bat guano within the interior of the facility. With these findings, it was the determination of the Richmond County Health Department that there was no risk to hospital staff or patients.
“The bat situation currently does not prevent the hospital from resuming services in labor and delivery, intensive care and the outpatient departments, but as a precautionary measure while work continues in other areas of the hospital, FirstHealth will continue to suspend all services except for those patients who present in the Emergency Department,” Emily Sloan, assistant director of public relations, said in a statement.
Patients with scheduled appointments Monday and Tuesday will be offered the option to go to Moore Regional or reschedule at Richmond Memorial for a later date.
the hospital administration will reassess the situation this afternoon in consultation with the bat removal company. Following that assessment, the hospital will provide another update on the situation to patients and staff.
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