Olympic Medical Center back to normal operating room capacity

Olympic Medical Center back to normal operating room capacity

PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center was back to performing non-emergent and elective surgeries Wednesday, days after the hospital curtailed the procedures.

OMC stopped performing non-emergent and elective surgeries Friday after its only ultrasonic sterilization machine malfunctioned, Lorraine Wall, chief nursing officer, told the OMC Board of Commissioners during its meeting Wednesday.

“We are back to normal schedule,” she said.

With the machine failing Friday, the hospital’s surgical capacity was strained.

She told the board the hospital has recently seen an uptick in the number of complex surgeries and has recently seen higher turnover in staff.

That, paired with a failing ultrasonic sterilization machine, didn’t help.

“When it wasn’t functioning, there was a bit of a logjam, if you will,” she said.

OMC ordered a new machine, which was shipped Tuesday.

CEO Eric Lewis said because the current machine was purchased in 2014 and is still under warranty, the new machine was free.

Until it arrives, the hospital is using the broken machine, he said. It works, just at a much slower pace.

“Currently, we’re using the machine 24 hours a day,” he said. “It’s functioning now, and we’re fully caught up.”

OMC plans to order a larger second machine also, Lewis said.

“For this important of a machine, we can’t have a bottleneck,” he said. “We need a second one.”

That machine is the second measure of infection control, Lewis said. It’s used to disinfect operating tools after they have already gone through another cleaning machine, which he likened to a dishwasher.

He praised staff for curtailing non-emergent and elective surgeries while the hospital fixed the issues, calling it the right decision.

“We came together, focused on safety and doing the right thing,” Lewis said. “This is going to make us stronger and improve redundancy in our system.”

The hospital performs upward of 600 surgeries per month in its seven operating rooms, a number Lewis said is on the rise.

He said the hospital always needs to be available to perform surgeries for life-threatening and limb-threatening conditions.

“We responded appropriately and safely for our patients,” Lewis said.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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