Review underway after Rand Hospital chemical spill

Review underway after Rand Hospital chemical spill

An internal review is underway at the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama following a chemical spill in the laboratory last Thursday, Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Managing Director Catherine Weech confirmed to Eyewitness News.

According to Weech, the chemical spilled was xylene.

The chemical is an aromatic hydrocarbon widely used in tissue processing, staining and coverslipping in histology laboratories, according to the National Institute of Health.

Weech said an employee accidentally spilled the chemical while cleaning the area.

“Anytime you have any type of incident like this we evaluate what went wrong and then we put in place corrective measures to mitigate from further occurrences,” Weech said in a recent interview.

In a separate interview, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said the incident has prompted health officials to look more carefully at how it processes chemicals.

“It speaks to a need for us now to look at storage of waste chemicals and disposal of waste chemicals from our healthcare facilities,” Sands said outside of Cabinet Tuesday.

According to Weech, the hospital went into full emergency mode following the spill to contain and the area and relocate staff. She said all safety measures were adhered.

Four employees affected were given two days off, Weech said.

She noted that there were several other employees who experienced slight headaches from the fumes.

The PHA released a statement last week advising that no one was injured, however cautionary measures were taken for employees affected to be seen by a doctor.

The authority also said the spill did not impact admitted patients on the hospital’s wards.

The laboratory was shut down on Thursday and Friday, and resumed services on Monday, Eyewitness News understands.

As part of the remedial work, the managing director said the PHA engaged Lucayan Medical Centre, an ambulatory medical facility, and another laboratory to use during the temporary closure of the Michaela Virgill Storr Pavilion of the Rand.

She also advised that Cabinetry, sheetrock and tiles had to be replaced in the lab.

Weech was unable to say how much the spill and remedial work will cost the PHA.

“We wouldn’t know the impact of our cost as yet because we have to factor in all of the cost in terms of the remedial work that was done by the outside agency; cost, as in human resource cost; [and the] cost of having to refer our services outside during the period,” she said.

“Those costs have to be added up. A full report will be generated.”