Hospital awaiting lab results of suspicious substance

Unknown powder was included in shipment from an established vendor

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2010

A small portion of Bartlett Regional Hospital's administrative offices remained closed Thursday pending the toxicology report from the State of Alaska Epidemiology Lab in Anchorage concerning an unknown substance found in a shipment from an established vendor.

One bathroom, the lab's main entrance, and the lab manager's office were sealed and contained.

"We are still waiting and expecting results from the state lab," Director of Community Relations Jim Strader said. "The area sealed off is a negative flow area."

A negative flow area is designed so that air does not flow out of it. Air can only flow into it, which prevents the spread of bacteria, germs and viruses.

"We are still in business," Strader said. "We are not shut down. There was no public danger and there is no reason not to come to the hospital. We are still seeing patients and the laboratory is still functional."

The unknown substance is a white powder that was found inside a plastic bag around a regular shipment of red dye used for blood testing. The shipment was packaged in a manner different than normal. The vender had no knowledge of the powder.

The Capital City Fire and Rescue Hazmat team responded, securing the container and samples.

"We treat it like something that could be harmful and run it through the appropriate process," Fire Chief Eric Mohrmann said. "With something unusual it is always better to be safe than sorry."

Results were expected back from the state lab Thursday afternoon but were not available as of press time.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com



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