Water pipe break prompts 'internal disaster' at Ben Taub, Harris Health

Houston-based Harris Health System declared an "internal disaster" systemwide at 11:35 a.m. on Sept. 9, after a water pipe break at Ben Taub Hospital, also in Houston.

The water pipe burst at Ben Taub Hospital at 9 p.m. the night before, prompting the hospital to declare an internal disaster within the facility and initiate a response to the crisis.

The hospital postponed some elective procedures, went on ambulance diversion status and assessed resources for relocating affected patients. Ninety-one inpatient beds are out of service due to the water damage.

Initially, patients were relocated to other areas within the facility, according to a Harris Health spokesperson. While the total number of patients relocated remains unclear, about 50 have been taken to other hospitals in the community, including four to Harris Health's Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. Ben Taub Hospital remains on ambulance diversion status, directing incoming ambulances to other facilities.

Declaring a systemwide internal disaster allows Harris Health System to manage ambulance and patient volume throughout the system and provide support for the transfer of patients.

"All of our resources and efforts are currently focused on dealing with the crisis at hand, developing a remediation plan and maintaining a safe patient care environment," said Michael Hill, interim COO of Harris Health System. "We are absolutely committed to meeting the community's patient care needs."

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