11/26/2012 09:58 EST | Updated 01/26/2013 05:12 EST

Hospital Flood Caused Confusion, Uncertainty

It will be another week before the damage caused by a flash flood at Surrey Memorial Hospital is repaired and the emergency room is reopened, giving officials a chance to look at how staff handled the emergency.

At first, there was confusion and uncertainty, and nurses working at the time say they were unclear who would make the call to evacuate, according to Gail Conlin, a nurse at the hospital and a spokeswoman for the B.C. Nurses’ Union.

Conlin said her members are looking forward to a review of how decisions were made and should be made.

"Hopefully, the nurses will be at the table on the priority of how to call a specific code in this situation,” said Conlin. “I think we’ll be part of that. Things will be sorted out in the long run.”

A full review will be held, said Fraser Health Authority spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward.

"Emergency management will be debriefing with all units affected by this emergency, and the response,” Thorpe-Dorward said.

Thorpe-Dorward also said it was a very expensive incident.

"The initial cost estimate that we have for restoration of the physical infrastructure. the staffing costs involved and the minor equipment is running into a couple of million dollars."

That price tag could go much higher if, as suspected, the MRI machine is not salvageable. A new MRI alone could cost several millions of dollars.

Ambulances are still being re-routed to other hospitals, and the back-up urgent-care clinic at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Centre has seen more than 550 patients since the closure.

But patients are still showing up at the closed ER and officials are asking that they not do that. "They have to call an ambulance,” Conlin said. “If it's non-urgent, they need to call their doctor or go to a walk in clinic. They just don't have the capacity to look after the same number of people that we are used to looking after.”

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