Edwards medical center closed Monday; bacterial contamination found in building’s water supply
Vail Valley Medical Center spent much of Monday disinfecting water lines at the medical campus at Edwards. The campus is expected to re-open for business Tuesday.
EDWARDS — The bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease was discovered Monday in the water system at the medical campus, closing the facility for much of the day.
According to an email from Vail Valley Medical Center communications manager Emily Tamberino, that bacteria was found during “scheduled, periodic water sampling” at the facility. That discovery closed the campus Monday afternoon while the internal water system was disinfected.
The discovery of the bacteria was limited to the medical facility. Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Communications Public Affairs Manager Diane Johnson said no contamination was found in public lines outside the facility.
Johnson said the district does remote, real-time monitoring of chlorine levels throughout its system. Those monitors reported normal levels of chlorine — which kills bacteria. To be sure, the district sent employees to get water samples from fire hydrants around the medical center campus. Those samples, as well as samples taken from all the water tanks in the Edwards area, also showed normal chlorine levels.
Public buildings have backflow prevention systems that prevent water from returning to the public system. Those systems must be inspected annually and certified by independent inspectors. Medical facilities receive a higher level of scrutiny. Johnson said the systems at the medical campus passed their most recent inspections.
Johnson stressed that the water and sanitation district’s responsibility is to the public supply. In addition to the chlorine testing, district employees also tested community water supplies Monday for coliform and E. coli bacteria. Those tests require 24 hours to complete.
Tamberino’s email stated that the bacteria wasn’t found at high levels. But the internal lines were disinfected immediately. The facility is expected to open for normal business Tuesday morning.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.