A patient was the source of a strong gas smell that spread through the Weyburn General Hospital and prompted the evacuation of the building, says the city’s fire chief.
“It was a patient who came in, a worker in the oilfield who came in contaminated with a crude oil substance, which spread throughout the building and was recirculated by the building’s HVAC system,” Weyburn fire Chief Trent Lee said.
Fire crews were dispatched at 11:30 a.m. CST Friday after the gas smell was reported. They evacuated all the staff and patients because they didn’t have the source identified at that time, Lee said.
“With it being so strong and noxious, it was in the best interest of all patients to be moved as they’re in the hospital with various conditions and … it’s just better to evacuate until we verify everything is safe for them to return,” he said.
Weyburn is about 100 kilometres southeast of Regina.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said in a news release on Friday that 22 patients were moved to local care homes. The health authority said later Friday that 19 of those patients will be accommodated overnight at those care homes, while others had been discharged or have alternate care plans.
It advised anyone in the area requiring urgent care to call 911 or go to the nearest hospital outside Weyburn.
Lee said the health authority would be making the call on when people would be able to return to the building.
In response to an inquiry, a Saskatchewan Health Authority spokesperson said no one was available for an interview and that more information would be provided when it was available.
Just after 5 p.m. CST Friday, the SHA said hospital services were still disrupted, including emergency services, as the health authority investigated the “strong chemical odour.”
In an emailed statement, SaskEnergy said staff attended to a call at the Weyburn hospital on Friday, but did not detect any natural gas leaks.
“Our technicians have determined the odour was not natural gas-related,” the statement said.