The Veterans Affairs hospital in Jamaica Plain will reopen Monday for limited care more than a week after three major water pipes burst in two hospital buildings forcing the facility’s closure.
Vincent Ng, director of the VA Boston Healthcare System, said it will take workers two to three months to fully repair the damage caused by the burst pipes on Valentine’s Day and it will cost $1.7 million to renovate and repair the facility. No one was injured during the water breaks, and because the facility only treats day patients, no veterans had to be moved from the hospital.
Up to 1,000 veterans use the hospital each weekday for outpatient day surgery, urgent care, and clinical visits to their doctors. Since last week, those patients have been referred to the VA’s hospitals in West Roxbury and Brockton.
Last Sunday, as frigid temperatures swept through the region, a sprinkler pipe burst in the lobby of the ambulatory care building, where the surgery and urgent care units are located. Later that day, pipes began to burst on the upper wings of the main hospital, pushing water down to the lower floors and flooding 147 examining rooms and administrative offices. Since then, hundreds of workers have brought in fans and air-purifying machines to clean the hospital, with most of the damage occurring in the main hospital.
Ng said much of the work had been completed in the ambulatory care center, and most of the center’s clinics will open next week. “There is no mold,” he said. The urgent care center is expected to open by Thursday and the surgery center will also reopen next week, said Jeffrey Krockta, chief engineer at the hospital.
Ng also said that the VA plans to set up temporary clinics in a 30-room building on the hospital campus that had been used as a hotel for patients’ families. In addition, he said four mobile medical units had been brought to the hospital for use by doctors to treat patients.
Repairs to the hospital’s wings will take longer. As workers in white suits and air-pollution masks roamed the hospital’s near-empty hallways on Friday, Krockta outlined a work plan that will take place in stages.
“The contamination has been contained, but in order to return the hospital to service we need to segregate the areas that need a longer time to rebuild from the areas that are unaffected,” Krockta said.
Krockta’s first priority is to finish the cleanup from the water damage, which occurred in 144 pipes in the hospital. He said all of the water had been pumped out of the buildings. But since water streamed through the main corridor that connects the hospital’s wings, workers must first complete an air-quality check in the hallway. After that is finished, patients can visit two other hospital wings that were not affected by the flooding.
Since the pipes burst, the hospital’s 1,400 employees have been working in other VA facilities in West Roxbury, Boston, Brockton, Lowell, Quincy, Framingham, and Plymouth.
Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.