UPMC blames failure to follow water restrictions at 4 hospitals on PWSA directives
UPMC Presbyterian, Montefiore, Magee-Womens Center and Western Psychiatric Institute were in the area covered by a boil water advisory in Pittsburgh, but the hospital system believed they were clear because they get water from a different reservoir.
by Bob Hazen, originally posted on February 02, 2017
Four UPMC facilities continued using water for a full day after the boil water advisory was issued by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority this week, officials confirmed Thursday.
UPMC Presbyterian, Montefiore, Magee-Womens Center and Western Psychiatric Institute were all in the affected area covered by the restrictions, but the hospital system believed they were clear because they get water from a different reservoir. A UPMC Spokesperson confirms to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that they recieved one directive from PWSA on Tuesday and a different one on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 began asking for answers after some employees shared text alerts from UPMC showing they did not start following the advisory until Wednesday evening.
No one from UPMC would speak on camera, but in a statement early Thursday, UPMC attributed the confusion to the advisory put forth by PWSA.
“Tuesday’s initial advisory from PWSA covered the geographic locations of all hospitals involved at that time. Presby/Montefiore, Magee and Western Psych were not receiving water from the Highland Park reservoir so they were not included in the first advisory. When the PWSA expanded the advisory on Wednesday to include the Herron Hill reservoir, we upgraded our emergency plan to include all UPMC facilities in the area.”
But Pittsburgh city and PWSA officials said Thursday the map never changed.
“There was no change on our side to the coverage area,” said Kevin Acklin, chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto. “There were conversations on a daily basis, I think multiple times a day. The public safety director was on those calls notifying the hospitals, made them aware of the situation. UPMC and AHN (Allegheny Health Network).”
AHN said its only hospital in the affected area, West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield, followed the restrictions from the beginning.
Later Thursday, UPMC released more information about what sparked the confusion.
“The information we received from the PWSA Tuesday evening indicated the advisory was for areas served by the Highland Park reservoir. We contacted PWSA Emergency Dispatch Line Tuesday evening to advise we were operating several facilities in the area served by the Herron Hill reservoir. PWSA advised those lines were not affected.
“UPMC initiated further contact with PWSA on Wednesday and were then told the advisory was geographical and not service related. Upon receipt of that notification, we implemented the emergency plans at the remaining facilities in the area.”
UPMC said operations were not affected by the advisory and no procedures had to be canceled.