Since July 17, abnormally high humidity levels in the operating suites at Kittitas Valley Community Hospital have prompted surgery staff to reschedule several appointments. This has been the first year in the last decade that humidity levels have impacted surgery schedules for patients. The high humidity levels are likely due to the recent unusual weather patterns experienced in the area that have resulted in thunderstorms and heavy rain.
Humidity levels in the operating suites are closely monitored, and must remain below sixty percent to minimize risk of infection following surgery. "Patient safety is our top priority at all stages of the surgical experience," said Surgery Director Shay Ehler. "We truly appreciate the patience and understanding our patients have shown, and we deeply regret the disruption this has caused."
In an effort to lower the humidity, a mechanical engineer completed a thorough inspection of the facility and ventilation system. Several modifications were made to the ventilation system that reduced the humidity in the operating suites, and the mechanical engineer is working with staff to identify a permanent solution. In addition to modifications to the ventilation system, KVCH has been using a desiccant to absorb excess moisture in the air. Until a permanent solution is in place, KVCH will continuously monitor humidity levels to insure a safe surgery environment.
"We are hopeful that the modifications made so far will keep humidity levels low enough for us to continue with our normal surgery schedule until a permanent solution can be reached," said Ehler.
During the week of July 30, no surgeries have been rescheduled due to humidity. Patients who are scheduled for surgery are being asked to prepare for and arrive at their surgery appointment as scheduled.