Following up on a press conference held earlier this week to discuss the impact that a malfunctioning hospital chiller has had on cancer patients on St. Thomas, Schneider Regional Medical Center officials said Friday that radiation treatments have resumed at the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute.
Although the treatments are typically offered Monday through Friday, radiation therapy services will be provided Saturday to ensure patients have the opportunity to receive treatments, according to a hospital press release.
Cancer Institute officials said at a press conference Wednesday that neither the center’s radiation nor CT machines were affected by the downed chiller, but both were put on stand-by mode until it was fixed. Additional damage would have been caused if the machines remained online and hospital officials said Wednesday that, while the hospital awaits the arrival of a new rental chiller from Puerto Rico, a representative from the manufacturer would be on-island Thursday to see what could be done to get the old one back up and running.
The technician has had some success, hospital officials announced Friday.
“A technician from the manufacturer arrived on-island and has been able to get the unit functioning,” SRMC’s vice president of facilities management, Darryl Smalls, said in a news statement.
“This interim fix of the unit will allow us to serve our patients pending the arrival of the rental chiller next week. We are still on schedule to receive the rental unit on Monday, Nov. 7, and then have it up and running shortly thereafter,” Smalls said. “This rental chiller will be utilized until receipt of our new chiller.”
The existing chiller went down on Oct. 21 and, despite reports published in other media outlets about delays in patient care at CKCI, the cancer center’s staff said at Wednesday’s press conference that they have been working “around the clock” to assist with alternate treatment.
Smalls had explained Wednesday that the air-conditioning unit that went down within the Schneider Regional Medical Center is more than 10 years old and is obsolete, with parts being ordered second hand since they are no longer being made by the original manufacturer. The unit broke down a little more than a week ago, and SRMC Chief Executive Officer Bernard Wheatley said that his staff “immediately” began working with the supplier out of Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, certain machines were taken off-line – such as CKCI’s radiation unit – in order to prevent any damage that would be caused as a result of the AC not working, Wheatley said.
The first set of parts for the unit did come in last weekend and the unit was working, Smalls said during Wednesday’s press conference. The unit then failed again, with different parts malfunctioning, and the hospital moved to bring in the rental chiller.
Long term, officials have said that the hospital has applied for a grant through the U.S. Interior Department to purchase three new chillers, one of which will be dedicated to the Cancer Institute.