State Orders Lab Closed, Patients Transferred @ E.J. Noble
The state Health Department took action against E.J. Noble Hospital Friday, essentially closing the facility because of problems at the hospital's laboratory.
Technically, the health department only ordered the hospital's lab closed - it did not issue a closure order against the entire facility. But without a lab, the hospital can't accept new patients, and the state further required that all 18 patients in E.J. Noble be transferred from the hospital.
Seven of the patients were 'acute care' patients, with the remaining 11 being in the hospital for various reasons like rehabilitation or because they are waiting for a nursing home bed.
Late Friday night, a state official said some of the 18 patients had already been transferred, while the remainder would be moved within a day. Bill Schwarz from the Health Department said patients had the option of moving to another St. Lawrence County hospital, Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown or a Syracuse hospital.
In addition, rescue squads were directed to bring no more new patients to E.J. Noble, and the hospital was banned from treating patients in its emergency room. A team from the Health Department was at the hospital Friday to monitor developments.
E.J. Noble's nursing home was unaffected by the state's action.
Hospital administrator Charles Conole could not be reached for comment.
The hospital's lab was cited in late August for what were described as 'serious' deficiencies, after a weekend inspection by the health department.
Friday night, Schwarz said the lab's problems posed an "imminent risk to patient safety & health. That's the reality."
In August, 7 News was told the lab had three vacancies and had run out of some required supplies.
Conole said in August that he expected the state to monitor the hospital closely for at least six months. (Read our story here.)
In order to get the lab - and the hospital - back open, the hospital will have to submit a detailed plan of action to the Health Department, which must be accepted before the facility can reopen. It was not clear Friday night how long that could take.
- reported by 7 News reporter John Friot
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, Watertown, NY
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