Exeter Hospital reopens emergency room after sickness among staff

Exeter Hospital reopened its emergency room Saturday, a day after flu-like symptoms suffered by 19 staff members prompted its evacuation, a hospital official said.

The emergency room was “fully functional” and “fully staffed” as of noon, hospital spokeswoman Debra Vasapolli said.

The hospital’s operating room, which was also closed Friday morning, would likely reopen Monday, she said.


It remained unknown Saturday afternoon what caused the symptoms, but a carbon monoxide or anasthesia leak has been ruled out, she said.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

State public health officials had “no findings” when they inspected the hospital, she said Friday.

Vasapolli said she did not have any further information on the investigation into what caused the symptoms.

Nineteen staff members working in the operating room began experiencing dizziness and nausea Friday morning. They received treatment in the emergency room before it was closed, along with the operating room, in the late morning, Vasapolli said.

All hospital staff had been released from care by Saturday morning, she said.


Hospital officials had originally hoped to reopen both the emergency and operating rooms by mid-morning Saturday.

That plan was delayed, she said, because a cleaning crew was brought in to work overnight, and hospital employees cleaned the emergency room before it reopened, Vasapolli said.

“Right now we’re still conducting a very thorough internal cleaning” of the operating room, she said.

No patients appeared to come down with the illness, but the closure of the emergency room forced patients to be treated in the area outside the hospital doors.

Local ambulances were instructed to take those in need of treatment to other hospitals while the emergency room remained closed. No one arrived on their own seeking emergency treatment during that time, Vasapolli said.


Messages left with the New Hampshire Division of Public Health were not returned Saturday.

Jacob Carozza can be reached at