Water damage delayed PET/CT scanner at Dumont being put to use for months

Water damage delayed PET/CT scanner at Dumont being put to use for months

Water damage from a broken pipe in a new addition to the Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital in 2012 delayed a new PET/CT scanner from being put into use for several months.

However, Vitalité Health Network vice-president Stephan Legacy says the damage to the machine played no role in a situation unfolding at the time over the number of PET scans being curtailed because provincial funding for them was running out. 

The multi-million dollar diagnostic machine was damaged by water in March 22, 2012, when a valve in the plumbing system located directly above it failed during testing of a new $73-million, two-storey addition to the hospital.

The water caused $1.2 million in damage, according to a lawsuit filed by the provincial government against three companies involved in the building's construction, design and inspection. The province's allegations in court documents against the companies have not been proven in court. Some of the companies involved have also formed counter-claims against each other.

- Province of N.B. v. Foulem Construction et al

The PET/CT scanner that was damaged was repaired and is the same one now in service at the Dumont, said Legacy, who is the health authority's vice-president for diagnostic services.

"We were supposed to open our doors to patients in April [2012], which didn't happen … which is roughly a few days after the water damage," said Legacy. "So it took us quite a few months before we got the replacement parts and we were able to open."

The repaired scanner was officially unveiled by Vitalité on March 1, 2013.

On Nov. 20, 2012, Vitalité officials announced it had used up its annual quota of PET scans covered by the provincial government and the machine was slated to be shut down until the spring over funding issues.

Legacy said Monday that the Dumont and the Saint John Regional Hospital were each allotted funding for 400 scans a year. But when the Dumont's machine was damaged, the Saint John hospital took on the bulk of the required scans.

"Because we were late getting started, Saint John took the workload of Dumont for the period we were down in Dumont with that water damage," said Legacy.

"We were kind of late getting going but we hit that cap quite fast during that period of time, so we had to reduce the number of scans."

Legacy said that while the official launch of the new PET scanner was on March 1, 2013, it was being used months before that date.

Court documents filed in connection with the lawsuit include allegations that the machine was installed in the new building addition before it was completed, at the insistence of hospital officials. Legacy was unable to address that issue on Monday.

"If it was under our push or something else, I'm not really sure."