A visiting technician from the Johnson Corporation works on the broken air-conditioning system at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital on Tuesday. Officials were hoping to have the issue resolved yesterday after at least 13 days. (BVIHSA)

Elective surgeries were put on hold for at least 13 days at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital as uncomfortable heat plagued the facility because of an air-conditioning problem, according to the BVI Health Services Authority.

However, a technician from abroad arrived this week to work on the problem, and the agency said Tuesday that it hoped the issue was resolved.

“The BVIHSA is pleased to announce that the replacement part for the AC system, which arrived as anticipated, has been installed,” the BVIHSA stated Tuesday afternoon. “The AC system has been powered up and is currently being monitored to ensure optimal performance.”

However, the agency added that a “period of monitoring” was needed before it could “confidently” state that the issue had been fully resolved. Meanwhile, elective surgeries were still “on hold” pending the “all clear.”

“In addition to the AC monitoring, the Safety and Compliance, Infection Prevention, and Infrastructure teams have been conducting air quality testing to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff,” the BVIHSA stated Tuesday, adding, “Furthermore, a preventative cleaning schedule has been established to address any potential issues and ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all.”

‘Ongoing issue’

The BVIHSA first announced the “ongoing issue” in a March 28 press release that did not state when it began.

“Due to a system control software issue of the AC chilling unit, the hospital is experiencing a temperature control issue that is resulting in on-and-off cooling cycles,” the release stated, adding, “We regret to inform the public that all elective surgeries are temporarily on hold and only emergency procedures will be accommodated. Additionally, changes will be made to our pharmacy outpatient services.”

The BVIHSA stated at the time that it had contacted the AC system manufacturer and ordered needed replacement parts and software.

“As soon as the parts arrive in the territory, a technician from the manufacturer will travel to the BVI to facilitate its installation,” the release added.

Not resolved

Six days later, the agency acknowledged that the problem was not resolved, although the replacement part was due to arrive by last Thursday and a technician was scheduled to arrive Monday of this week.

“This means that the problem should be rectified by Wednesday, [April 10],” according to the April 3 press release. “In the interim, the BVIHSA deeply appreciates the patience and understanding of our community as we work diligently to swiftly resolve this matter.”

The release also provided further details about the services being offered at the hospital, noting that elective services would remain on hold until the AC issue is resolved.

“Our Imaging Unit is currently operating between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. providing limited x-ray and ultrasound services,” it stated. “In the meantime, we apologise that we are currently unable to provide our other diagnostic services such as CT, MRI and mammograms to the public.”

Emergency services, however, were proceeding “seamlessly,” and visiting hours were uninterrupted, according to the BVIHSA.

“Additionally, Road Town Clinic, laboratory services, and dialysis services remain unaffected, ensuring that critical medical care is readily accessible to those in need,” the April 3 release stated. “In our patient rooms, we have implemented measures to ensure comfort and well-being, including the provision of additional fans and the strategic opening of windows to enhance ventilation.”

On Tuesday, the BVIHSA posted a Facebook photo of the visiting technician working on the air conditioning unit.