Cooley Dickinson Hospital forced to suspend surgeries over issues with sterilizing equipment

  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital has temporarily suspended elective and emergency surgeries since Nov. 6 due to problems with equipment that sterilizes surgical instruments and devices. Some of those procedures returned on a limited basis on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/16/2023 4:03:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Malfunctioning equipment responsible for sterilizing medical instruments and devices forced Cooley Dickinson Hospital to temporarily suspend both elective and emergency surgical operations on Nov. 6, though some of those procedures returned on Tuesday.

According to Adam Bagni, a spokesperson for Mass General Brigham, Cooley Dickinson’s parent organization, the issue regarding the sterilization equipment resulted in a complete halt for surgical operations for more than one week. Although some surgeries resumed on a “limited basis” on Tuesday, Bagni said that the hospital was still working to resume normal operations.

“Mitigation efforts related to the equipment are still being worked on to resume emergency procedures,” Bagni said.

Bagni said he did not know how many surgeries had been affected by the stoppage, and that there was no current estimate on what the costs of repair would be. “Our primary focus is patient care and safety,” he said.

Other procedures that require off-site sterilized equipment and devices were unaffected. Bagni also said that although emergency procedures were affected by the defective equipment, the hospital was able to provide support for community members needing urgent operations on a case-by-case basis.

“The community can rest assured that we remain able to care for anyone who walks through our door in an acute emergency,” Bagni said. “We are collaborating with colleagues at Mass General Brigham, local officials, and other area health care organizations, to ensure that our community’s medical needs remain supported during this time.”

Patients who are affected by the stoppage are being notified and appointments will be rescheduled once normal operations resume, the hospital said.

According to the hospital’s website, Cooley Dickinson’s Kittredge Surgery Center provides a dozen surgical options. According to the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis, hip and knee joint replacement surgery accounted for more than 400 (or about 6% total) of the hospital’s inpatient cases in 2021, the most recent year available.

In addition, the hospital’s General Surgical Care division has surgeons that offer six areas of specialized on-site surgery for patients: abdominal, bariatric, breast, colorectal, dermatological and surgical oncology (cancer treatment). The bariatric, or weight-loss, surgical program began in 2021 and is the newest addition in the hospital’s general surgical care.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.


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