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UVM Medical Center Postpones Surgeries After Water Pipe Bursts


UVM Medical Center staff clear out equipment after the flooding - COURTESY OF THE UVM MEDICAL CENTER
  • Courtesy of the UVM Medical Center
  • UVM Medical Center staff clear out equipment after the flooding
The University of Vermont Medical Center is postponing dozens of elective surgeries after a water pipe burst and flooded most of its operating rooms over the weekend.

The flooding in the Burlington building began Saturday night and forced the closure of all but two of the hospital’s 22 operating rooms, according to a press release from UVM Medical Center. Eight operating rooms have since reopened, but the hospital estimates that it will take about a week to reopen the remaining dozen.

In the meantime, the hospital says it has delayed 49 elective surgeries and will be rescheduling others this week on a case-by-case basis.

“For the next week, major vascular cases will be diverted to other hospitals when possible,” a hospital press release said. It noted that a few patients have been moved to the hospital’s Fanny Allen campus in Colchester, while others may be directed to the UVM Health Network’s two other Vermont hospitals: the Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin and the Porter Medical Center in Middlebury.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause as we follow established procedures to ensure the safety of our patients and staff," the press release said.

A video shared by the hospital shows hallways filled with equipment as staff work to clear out the impacted rooms. VTDigger.org first reported the incident.
The closures comes at a precarious time for Vermont's largest hospital. It was already unable to keep pace with the demand for its surgical services before the pandemic and has been forced to postpone hundreds of procedures over the last two years.

The hospital now faces a nearly $40 million budget gap that it blames on inflation and rising labor costs. A request to charge commercial insurance companies more over the next six months is now pending with state regulators.

Making a case for the increase at a hearing last week, UVM Health Network executive vice president and chief operating officer Al Gobeille said the hospital's shrinking margins undermine its ability to update facilities.

"We just don't have the most modern equipment, the most modern scope or monitor or some other device because we don't have the capital," he said. "I'm just worried that we won't shine."