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OSHA inspecting Exeter Hospital following mysterious illness that sickened 19 workers

Union Leader Correspondent

September 14. 2017 10:35PM

EXETER — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an inspection at Exeter Hospital after 19 employees were sickened for an unknown reason during an incident last month.

OSHA’s Concord area office began an inspection at the hospital on Aug. 11 in response to the incident, according to Ted Fitzgerald, regional director for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor.

The inspection is ongoing, but there is no completion date, Fitzgerald said.

“The purpose of the inspection is to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace health or safety standards in connection with the incident,” he said.

Fitzgerald said OSHA doesn’t discuss specifics of ongoing inspections.

Fire, police and other emergency personnel were called to the hospital on the morning of Aug. 11 after several staffers in the operating room department began feeling dizzy and nauseous. In all, 19 workers became ill — 12 of whom were transported to other hospitals for treatment.

Authorities were not immediately able to find the cause of the incident that forced the evacuation of the emergency and operating room departments.

Assistant Fire Chief Eric Wilking has said there are situations where officials are unable to pinpoint the causes of incidents like this.

The hospital has also been conducting its own investigation.

“Exeter Hospital is continuing to investigate the source which caused the evacuation of the inpatient OR and emergency department following 19 staff members exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The hospital continues to partner with external experts to conduct an ongoing epidemiological review and thorough investigation,” hospital spokesman Debra Vasapolli said in a statement.

She added that “as the fire official expressed the day of the event, it may not be possible to determine a source. As always, the safety of our patients and staff remain our priority. There has been no reoccurrence and both areas remain fully operational.”

Health Exeter

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