Deteriorating vent system prompts New York VA hospital to close 5 ORs

After black particles started falling from air vents in February, the Northport (N.Y.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center closed down five operating rooms and has sent patients elsewhere for surgery, The New York Times reports.

A few of the ORs were reopened in April but closed after the problem cropped up again.

"Cutting into the body, those types of procedures are not being done in those rooms at this time," Philip Moschitta, the hospital's director, told the NYT. Clinicians are still performing colonoscopies and cataract surgeries elsewhere in the hospital.

An analysis of the hospital's air quality, done by Environmental Analysis Associates, found the particles came from oxidizing metal and crumbling concrete, the NYT reports. The building's vent system dates back to the early 1970s.

"When you have a 45-year-old facility, things rust," Mr. Moschitta told the paper.

Hospital officials considered adding a mobile surgical unit, which would be parked on Northport's lawn, but that proved too costly, with rentals costing roughly $70,000 monthly.

To address the problem, new high-efficiency particulate air filters will be installed in OR vents and Mr. Moschitta told the NYT the rooms will be operational June 1.

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