A BREAKDOWN in an airconditioning unit at Shoalhaven Hospital during recent hot weather had the potential to cost millions of dollars.
The unit failed during last month’s hot weather when temperatures rose into the 40s.
Staff, who didn’t want to be named because they were not permitted to speak to the media, said at one stage because of the faulty airconditioner, the temperature and humidity rose to dangerous levels, putting certain parts of the storage area for theatres outside Australia standards.
And there was, the possibility that millions of dollars worth of equipment would have to be thrown out.
As it was a number of medications and some equipment did have to be junked.
It was only after negotiations with a number of companies that provide equipment to the hospital that items such as expensive orthopaedic prostheses and staple guns were cleared to be used.
The Register was told the breakdown had the potential to cost around $3 million.
It is believed a number of items were placed in danger after temperatures rose into the 40s and humidity was at 80 per cent for close to 24 hours.
Luckily they did not breach Australian standards and remained safe for use.
It has also been revealed that there is an ongoing problem with the system, with claims it is still not fully functioning and, as a result, some surgical procedures have had to be conducted in smaller operating theatres.
Staff said they were walking on eggshells because they didn’t know if or when the unit would fail again.
It is understood there were problems at the weekend that had nothing to do with the wild storm that battered the city.
Staff said some of the older theatres were “going down regularly”, while another was being used as a storage area because it was the only place where temperatures and humidity remained constant.
Shoalhaven Hospital has denied thousands of dollars worth of medications and equipment had to be thrown away due to the failure of the unit.
A spokesperson for Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital said the extreme weather last month caused slightly higher than normal temperatures within a sterile stock area.
“Following normal risk management procedures, some supplies have been replaced,” the spokesperson said.
“Like a lot of airconditioners in the region on those hot days it struggled to cope with that extreme heat and it failed to keep certain medications at the required temperatures.
“And thus we had to dispose of some medications.
“There is nothing wrong with the airconditioning unit; it just went up in temperature as most airconditioners did on that day did.
“Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital has in place a stringent process of monitoring air temperature in parts of the hospital that require constant levels.
“Like all equipment, airconditioning systems throughout the hospital are regularly monitored, maintained and repaired as required.”
The spokesperson said the exact cost of the stock that had to be thrown out was not available but reports it was worth tens of thousands of dollars were blown out of proportion.
Last year the hospital's SQCT scanner broke down, while four years ago the complex was thrown into turmoil when a vintage air compressor failed, forcing some patients to be transferred to Wollongong.