Baptist Health copes with San Marco boil water advisory

Hospital hands out bottled water to patients, staff until advisory lifted

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As JEA utility crews made repairs Tuesday to a water main break in San Marco that left 3,000 homes and businesses under a boil water advisory, Baptist Health Hospital continued to make accommodations for its patients.

The hospital's emergency management director, Karen Ketchie, said it's not the first time the hospital's staff, patients and visitors have had to avoid drinking or washing their hands in water that could be contaminated.

A JEA spokeswoman said that the first test of the water came back clear Tuesday, but another test must be done Wednesday. If the second test comes back clear, the boil water advisory will be lifted.

Ketchie said until then, the hospital isn't taking any chances.

“If you think, 'If your family member is here, is that what would you want done for them?' that's an easy decision,” Ketchie said.

Bottled water was distributed throughout the hospital to patients and staff.

Ketchie said that staff can “foam in” with antibacterial sanitizer, but they are told to use the bottled water to wash their hands. Patients are also using it to brush their teeth.

“The big advantage was from the hurricane. As a result of the hurricane, we still had many pallets and pallets of bottled water still stored here,” Ketchie said. “We were able to put that to good use, and I know they’ve gone through several pallets at this point.”

Ketchie said the hospital assigned an employee to be in constant contact with JEA, getting updates about the pipe and the advisory and passing that info on to each department. Ketchie said some of the hospital's buildings run on well water and weren’t affected by the boil water advisory.

The water main break, the second in less than a week, was reported Sunday evening on Landon Avenue at Arcadia and flooded the immediate area.

Water service was restored to all customers in San Marco and the Southbank early Monday morning.

Crews worked Tuesday to replace the broken pipe and will take the next couple of days to continue repairs.

JEA said anyone who lost water pressure is under the boil water advisory. Water should be boiled for a minimum of one minute prior to using for drinking, food preparation or cooking.

It is recommended that customers flush water lines for three minutes after water returns in order to remove any air and possible sediments from the lines.

JEA crews had to work Thanksgiving Day when a water main break flooded roads in the Miramar neighborhood off San Jose Boulevard, but only about 20 customers were affected by that outage.