A sample of water found in the taps of the diabetes office on the fourth floor of the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital. (Northern Health photo)

Drinking water concerns at northern B.C hospital

Northern Health said the results of the Prince Rupert Hospital water study not due until fall

For several weeks, the ice and water machine in the patient care unit has been broken and it may not be fixed until the fall, or later.

Since the machine broke, health care practitioners have been bringing in flats of bottled water to the approximately 30 patients on the third level.

President of the BC Nurses’ Union, Christine Sorensen, is concerned about the situation.

“I think it’s very concerning that the patients and staff have been impacted by a broken filtered water system for more than a month. Really, there were no immediate actions taken by the health authority until the nurses started to press the issue,” Sorensen said.

Northern Health said the water machine won’t be replaced until an ongoing water study is complete.

“The use and provision of bottled water in the facility is an interim measure while we await the results of the water assessment, for which a RFP [request for proposal] was issued earlier this year (in March),” said Eryn Collins, a communications officer with Northern Health.

“I don’t have a firm ETA on the assessment results; the water study is underway, and results are expected in the fall.”

READ MORE: Muddy water found in taps at Prince Rupert hospital prompts investigation

Collins added the ice and water machine won’t be replaced until the health authority receives the results of the study. Staff and patients will be provided bottled water until they have more information on what they should do.

In April, Northern Health hired a consultant to examine three of its facilities — the hospital, Acropolis Manor and Summit Residences — for potential contamination.

Sorensen is a public health nurse, and said that the water at the hospital is “brownish, it has a taste, it has odour. People say that they feel unwell after. At the very least, I think the water needs to be tested by an environmental health officer.”

The study was instigated after muddy water was found in the occupational therapist room, on the second floor in the doctors’ office and the fourth floor in the diabetes office.

“People come to the hospital because it’s a place where they can be cared for. We should expect that the water in the hospital that’s provided is safe to drink, safe to utilize. Nurses have to wash their hands frequently. While we have a short-term plan in place to provide filtered bottled drinking water, the question we have is what is the long-term plan that the health authority has?” Sorensen said.

RELATED: Bill introduces calls for water testing at schools



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

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