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Water main break outside CHEO disrupts water, air conditioning on hottest day of the year

A water main break right outside CHEO disrupted the children’s hospital’s access to drinking water and air conditioning on the hottest day of the year, forcing it to cancel elective surgeries and some clinic visits for the day Tuesday.

The hospital emergency room is still open and accepting patients.

The water main broke at around 12:30 p.m., right outside the main entrance, prompting CHEO to issue a Code Grey.

“This incident has disrupted our access to water for clinical care, cooling, drinking water and restroom facilities,” a CHEO spokesperson said in an email to CTV News Ottawa.

“At the present time, we are actively working on solutions with our hospital and other local partners to help resolve this situation and reduce the impact on patients and their families.”

While the hospital did lose water pressure, it was not without water completely. Non-elective surgeries remain ongoing. 

Tammy DeGiovanni, Senior Vice-President and Chief Nurse Executive, says the hospital went into water conservation mode as soon as the disruption began.

“We’ve protected our main core hospital operations, so, making sure our patients remain safe,” she said. “Any elective activity was cancelled and any staff that was in the building that didn’t need to be was asked to go home.”

The disruption to water and air conditioning comes on the hottest day of the year so far. At 3 p.m. the temperature in Ottawa was 32 C with a humidex of 43.

Some portable air conditioners were brought in to provide some cooling in areas like the operating room, the dialysis unit and the NICU.

A spokesperson for the Ottawa Hospital says the hospital has been communicating with CHEO and is available to offer support if needed. The Ottawa Hospital General Campus is nearby, but is unaffected by the water main break. 

There is currently construction on the CHEO campus for the development of its new Children Integrated Treatment Centre, which includes a new parking garage to accommodate more people and a tunnel to connect the two buildings.

The City of Ottawa says it is aware of the situation.

“The City is aware of a water main break on the property of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario which has caused a disruption of water service to their facility. Ottawa Fire Services is currently on-site providing assistance, which includes supplying bottled water and assessing any other short-term solutions with hospital staff that may help alleviate the situation,” said a statement attributed to Marilyn Journeaux, director of Water Services – Linear. “Staff will continue to work with the hospital and their contractor as they work towards restoring water to this vital facility in Ottawa.”

There is no timeline for how long it will take to repair the water main.

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