By Peter Stevenson
THE FIRST two floors of Limassol general hospital were evacuated on Thursday when smoke was seen coming from an elevator shaft after an emergency generator was being used following the malfunction of an Electricity Authority (EAC) transformer.
The transformer had leaked oil and overheated on Wednesday night, and according to head of the hospital Chrysostomos Andronicou, the relevant authorities had been informed of the problem. He said that the fire services had check on the problem on Wednesday night and that the EAC had promised to deal with it on Thursday.
Andronicou had given instructions to staff following the fault to reduce electricity consumption by stopping the use of air conditioners and other electric devices such as washing machines and sterilising equipment.
He added that while EAC employees were busy replacing the transformer on Thursday, and while the hospital generators were in operation a number of power cuts occurred and smoke was seen coming from the elevator shaft.
The smoke was due to the excessive friction in the elevator brakes according to a fire services spokesman.
The first two floors were then immediately evacuated, including the emergency department, as fire fighters arrived. It was established that there was no danger so instructions were given to patients to re-enter the hospital shortly afterwards.
Andronicou expressed his anger that the EAC did not deal with the problem immediately.
“Unfortunately the EAC did not deal with us seriously. We are a big hospital and you cannot start work when you have had a problem since 3pm the previous day,” he said.
A number of patients and their relatives expressed their discontent that the air conditioners had not been working since Wednesday afternoon.
In response, the EAC released a statement categorically denying Andronicou’s claims.
“Allegations were not substantiated and were evidently made to cover mistakes made by the hospital,” the statement said.
The EAC clarified that no power cut had taken place from their side other than when they were forced to change the transformer.
“Hospital personnel were informed from the previous day that a transformer would need to be changed and it was agreed that the transformer would be switched off on Thursday morning,” the statement said.
The EAC claimed the transformer malfunctioned as it has been overloaded which was the hospital’s responsibility.
“Because changing the transformer was not an emergency it was decided it could be switched the next day,” the statement said.