How hospitals are responding to the water crisis in Mississippi

Hospitals are navigating a water crisis in Jackson, Miss., after the city's main water treatment facility began failing Aug. 29. 

More than 150,000 people in the state's capital did not have access to safe drinking water as of Aug. 30, according to The New York Times. Jackson has faced issues with its water system for years due to aging and poor infrastructure, and these issues were recently magnified by torrential rains in the area. Health officials said they now face the "massively complicated task" of distributing bottled water to residents and that it's unclear how long it will take to restore service, according to the Times.

University of Mississippi Medical Center said its main campus is on a well-water system and hasn't been affected by Jackson's water issues. However, the crisis has compromised the health system's ability to respond to a fire, as its facilities' fire suppression systems are fed through the city water system. Affected facilities have been under a fire watch since Aug. 29.

The air conditioning at the system's Jackson Medical Mall was also malfunctioning as a result of the water issues. A water tanker was slated to arrive at the medical mall Aug. 30 to resolve the issues.

"There is some impact to patient care operations at Jackson-based UMMC facilities not on the main campus," UMMC said in a news release. In some cases, appointments have been moved to different locations. The health system also brought in portable restrooms to some locations. 

"UMMC will continue to evaluate the impact the city of Jackson water crisis is having on its facilities," the health system said. "The medical center will take a day-by-day approach to operations located at the facilities listed above."

While Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson has its own water tower that's also prevented major water issues related to the recent treatment plant failure, its medical office buildings have already been operating on a boiled water advisory for more than 30 days "with minimal impact to patient care," a hospital spokesperson told Becker's

"We're continuing to monitor the situation to ensure we're able to provide quality and safe care for the community," the spokesperson said.

St. Dominic Hospital told Becker's that its main campus has its own water system, but that several other locations and clinics are supplied by city water. 

"We are closely monitoring water pressure levels in these locations and are making arrangements to relocate those teams and services as needed," said Scott Kashman, Jackson market president  and CEO of St. Dominic Health Services and St. Dominic Hospital. "We are prepared to see an increase in patients who may normally have been seen for care in another setting." 

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