Three operating rooms used for cesarean sections at West Penn Hospital remain closed after the sprinkler system was accidentally turned on April 6, causing significant water damage to them, hospital officials said Tuesday.
Labor and postpartum suites were not affected, but patients have been taken to three operating rooms on the floor below, said Stephanie Waite, media relations specialist at West Penn.
The cost of the damage is "well under $1 million," Ms. Waite said. She declined to give a specific number but said it may not exceed the insurance deductible.
She also declined to say what triggered the sprinklers except to describe the incident as "an inadvertent activation" of the sprinkler system.
"There has been absolutely no compromise to patient safety or any patient outcomes related to this incident," she added, noting that there was "quick, easy access one floor down to three other operating rooms set up for labor and delivery, and a larger-than-usual elevator."
Several emergency C-sections have since taken place "with excellent response time and no adverse effects," she said.
One doctor who preferred to remain anonymous has been advising patients not to deliver at West Penn while the operating rooms are closed.
"I'm very concerned about doing deliveries there. God forbid there is a need to do an emergency C-section," said the doctor. "The elevator is far from the operating room, it could put the baby in jeopardy."
The doctor estimated that moving a patient to another floor would take a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes, not to mention the "exquisitely awkward" mechanics of getting a hospital bed and all the medical personnel involved in a difficult birth into the elevator.
Five new labor and delivery suites were not affected by the water, so impact on those patients has been minimal, added Ms. Waite, who noted that the damaged operating rooms "were scheduled to be renovated anyway, so we are now considering moving ahead with those renovations as part of the restoration effort."
Mackenzie Carpenter: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1949, or Twitter: MackenziePG. First Published April 30, 2013 12:15 AM