Brigham and Women's water main break leaves IVF patients in limbo

A water main break at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital on Dec. 24 has disrupted in vitro fertilization services, affecting hundreds of people, The Boston Globe reported.

According to a hospital statement shared with Becker's, the break occurred in the early morning hours and affected several areas across the hospital, including its IVF clinic, rehabilitation department, and the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families.

The hospital said its teams, supported by the Boston Fire Department, moved quickly overnight to remove water from all affected areas and safely transfer patients to other units in Brigham and Women's.

But Brigham and Women's experienced flood damage to walls of several areas of the hospital, including the IVF clinic, and frozen embryos remain inaccessible during remediation work, according to the Globe.

In its statement, the hospital said its clinical teams have reached out to affected IVF patients, "offering them the opportunity to move forward with egg retrievals and fresh embryo transfers with their same clinical teams at an alternative site. Importantly, all of the embryos and eggs in our storage tanks are safe and unaffected and they continue to be securely stored in our alarmed, continuously monitored tanks."

Brigham and Women's added that it is providing support to patients via its patient and family relations team and continues to work to minimize disruption to hospital services.

However, the hospital won't open the storage tanks for about a month, to allow for remediation work and air and environmental testing, and patients undergoing a frozen embryo transfer must reschedule and redo the IVF preparation process, the hospital said, according to the Globe.

Brigham and Women's also said it was installing water shutoffs on multiple floors to prevent future flooding, the newspaper reported.

"We are committed to mitigating any burden on our patients and encourage them to reach out to their care team and our patient and family relations team where we can connect them to supportive resources, mental health support, and work through any insurance or financial issues they may be facing," the hospital said. "We remain steadfastly committed to providing high-quality care to our patients and appreciate their trusting us with their fertility care."

Read the full Globe report here


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