A current Vidant Operating Department employee is speaking out after the Operating Room at Vidant Medical Center was shut down for all non-emergency surgeries on May 17.
The decision was made by Vidant leadership after they became aware that some surgical equipment was leaving the sanitization station looking discolored.
“Upon awareness of this dis-coloration, and out of an abundance of caution, we decided to repackage all of the instruments,” said Steve Tripp, VP of Perioperative Services at Vidant Medical Center.
However, one employee, who will remain anonymous for fear of losing their job, said the operating department is still in chaos after shortages and mix-ups of operating equipment.
In an exclusive interview, the employee told WNCT’s Josh Birch that not only was the equipment discolored, but the sanitization machine was not properly working.
“They couldn’t tell whether or not it was two days ago, two months ago, or six months ago,” the employee said of the discolored equipment.
Dr. Keith Ramsey, who oversees infection control at Vidant Medical Center, was brought in to look at the equipment. He said a sample of the discolored equipment was tested and came back free of bacterial matter.
“It is not a biological material so therefore we’re not concerned, that’s why we said we are not concerned about this being an infectious process,” Ramsey said.
During a Tuesday news briefing, Vidant officials said all discolored equipment had been pulled from operating rooms. However, the employee who contacted WNCT said that was not the case.
“As of Sunday night, they were still in there,” asked WNCT’s Josh Birch.
“Yes,” replied the employee.
The employee said several employees in the operating department have raised concerns about this being a patient safety issue, including some surgeons. However, Vidant leadership said that safety remains their priority, and they are doing everything in their power to ensure safety.
“We have checks and balances that the surgery we’re doing is very safe,” said Tripp. “There is no question in my mind or we wouldn’t do surgery.”
Tripp said roughly 70 surgeries set for Thursday had to be re-scheduled. He said at no time was the trauma center or emergency surgeries impacted by the discolored equipment.
Vidant encourages any patients concerned about this matter to contact them at 252-847-8355.