Watauga Medical Center emergency department

Watauga Medical Center offers emergency services, plus the Seby Jones Cancer Center and a Cardiology Center.

BOONE — After 24 hours in emergency mode, Watauga Medical Center’s central air-conditioning system is back online after the unit failed the morning of Monday, July 8.

“All services are normal and we are fully functional,” said Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Senior Vice President Rob Hudspeth on Tuesday, July 9.

The mechanical failure took place around 6:45 a.m. on Monday, which caused an all-hands-on-deck situation, Hudspeth said, in order to keep the hospital cool.

“Our first order of business was to ensure patient safety, making sure they were comfortable,” Hudspeth said.

All elective surgeries and services were suspended at the 117-bed primary and secondary acute and specialty care center for the duration of the outage, but the facility was still available for emergency services, Hudspeth said.

According to parent company ARHS, Watauga Medical Center saw around 29,300 emergency room visits in 2018.

Hudspeth said contractors were called in to do diagnosis. As of the evening of July 9, all parts were installed minus one that would come in the next day for the hospital’s chillers, but Hudspeth said temporary units were functioning until then.

In the interim, Hudspeth said that a total of 23 portable and temporary air-conditioning systems were brought in, with the help of a number of outside agencies in Watauga County and in neighboring counties, for patient needs.

“A lot of outside agencies came together,” Hudspeth said, noting a full list of helping organizations would be provided in the coming days.

Hudspeth said no patients were required to be moved and patient safety was not compromised, despite the building warming up in the afternoon of July 8.

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