Soldotna, AK – In response to smoke in the air and entering through our ventilation systems, Central Peninsula Hospital made the decision to shut down our air handlers early this morning. The air handlers normally draw in fresh air from outdoors and distribute it throughout the facility. They are equipped to filter out particulates, say in the event of a volcanic eruption, but can not filter out acrid smoke from a fire as the area experienced today. Exposure to smoke can exacerbate symptoms for anyone with existing respiratory illnesses such as asthma, emphysema and COPD.
Because the air handlers were shut down, we could not provide the required safe air flow pressure to our surgical suites. Our Environment of Care Team met and made the decision to cancel all scheduled surgeries for the day while our facilities staff worked to secure better air flow for all patient care areas. The air handlers have since been turned back on, servicing patient care areas including surgery. We are operating normally. The Surgery Department will resume normal operations beginning tomorrow morning. We want to thank our patients and physicians for their patience as we work to mitigate the impact of the smoke inside the hospital and continue to provide a safe and healthy environment of care.