State Health Department shuts down VBMC operating rooms

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State health inspectors recently shut down several operating rooms at VBMC.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Several operating rooms at Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC) were recently shut down by the New York State Department of Health.

During a routine inspection of the hospital, a state inspector discovered unsafe levels of humidity in operating rooms 9, 10, 11, and 12. Hospital spokesman John Nelson said that the state discovered low levels of humidity.

“Ensuring hospitals provide high-quality care is a top priority of the New York State Department of Health,” said spokesman Jeff Hammond. “During a recent department inspection, Vassar Brothers hospital was cited for unsafe humidity levels in some operating rooms, resulting in those rooms being temporarily closed. The impacted operating rooms were reopened after the hospital took action to ensure the humidity in the operating rooms is maintained at appropriate levels when in use.  The department will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation has reported that high levels of humidity in operating rooms increases the chance of surface mold and mildew growth while also increasing the risk of wound infections on patients being operated on.  On the opposite end of the humidity levels, the foundation says low humidity can result in “decreasing the shelf life of certain supplies, such as biological indicators and chemical indicators used for sterilization monitoring, and electrocardiogram electrodes.  Low humidity also increases the chance of electrostatic discharge that could harm or interfere with electromedical equipment, and potentially spark a fire.

VBMC spokesman John Nelson issued a statement saying “Vassar Brothers Medical Center is retrofitting some of its operating rooms and procedure rooms due to low humidity. We are grateful for the New York State Department of Health’s oversight of our facility. When they point out potential issues such as this, it gives us the opportunity to take immediate action to ensure we continue to provide excellent, high-quality care.”