Case Studies – Temporary Climate Solutions

Dorchester General's fast recovery after Hurricane Irene

Built in the 1960s, Dorchester General Hospital of Shore Health System is a three-story, 52-bed, brick-built community hospital, providing 24-hour emergency services. When Hurricane Irene unleashed its fury in eastern Maryland, USA, it spared no one in its path – including Dorchester General Hospital in Cambridge.

DGH was severely damaged by heavy rain and violent winds, causing extensive water damage to the lab and other critical areas. As a result, the hospital had to be evacuated and closed temporarily. The water damage needed to be addressed quickly as surgeries and patients were affected, and the community relied on the hospital's services. The aftermath of Hurricane Irene posed a significant challenge for the dedicated staff and management at Dorchester General Hospital. But amidst the devastation, the hospital's history of resilience and commitment to serving its community guided them through the recovery process.

PROBLEM

Heavy rain and violent winds pummeled the hospital facility, ripping open its lab roof and allowing gallons of rainwater to pour into the building. “The rain was coming down in full force and the leak in the lab had become sheets of cascading water,” said George Shoener, facilities management director for Shore Health System.

Although the lab sustained the most severe water damage, other areas of the hospital were affected including patient rooms, a chemotherapy suite, the pharmacy, an operating room, and central supply rooms.

Without the ability to conduct lab testing, perform surgeries and dispense medications, hospital officials had no choice but to close the facility and evacuate patients to other hospitals.

SOLUTION

DGH facilities manager, Robert Hurley, knew he had to act fast to control and combat the water damage, so he turned to Polygon. Shoener, who previously used Polygon’s temporary humidity control services for a construction project.

A Polygon project manager arrived on site within 45 minutes of Hurley’s call. He performed an assessment and ordered equipment and personnel so they could immediately start drying the building to prevent mold growth and the need for reconstruction.

Polygon technicians were on site 24 hours a day throughout the duration of the project. They used a 4500 CFM desiccant dehumidification unit to dry all three floors of the hospital facility. Small dehumidifiers and air movers provided additional dehumidification in areas with the most water damage and infrared cameras were used to check moisture levels and drying progress.

An area was contained, ‘rough cleaned’ for debris removal, and then every square inch was cleaned and disinfected utilizing hospital-grade chemicals and procedures. Cleanliness and quality control were extremely important to ensure IAQ standards were maintained and to meet the stringent requirements for a hospital setting. In addition, Polygon coordinated the work of the specialty contractors retained to handle renovations.

An insurance adjuster made a site visit and was satisfied with the plan set by the management of the hospital and Polygon. When the specialty cleaning process was completed, officials from the Maryland Department of Health and Human Hygiene conducted a walk-through of the hospital and gave final approval to reopen.

“To reopen less than a week after the storm was an amazing feat,” said Shoener. “Our staff and our partners at Polygon and other vendors were tireless in their cleanup, drying, and repair efforts.”

RESULTS

Swift Action, Swift Recovery

Due to such a quick turnaround, DGH significantly reduced its closure duration, enabling the prompt return of patients, resumption of surgeries, and, most importantly, minimal disruption to patient care.

Guided Support

Polygon not only supplied equipment but also deploys trained technicians to provide comprehensive support and address any arising needs or challenges during the project. With a 24-hour on-site presence, DGH benefited from rapid solutions and the adaptability to handle any unexpected issues with efficiency.

Figure 1: Dorchester General Hospital (DGH) made valiant efforts to shield its crucial laboratory from the devastating aftermath of the hurricane.

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