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How do you know the water in your facility is safe without the proper maintenance and testing? The Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey was unaware they had a problem until a water test revealed the presence of lead, according to the hospital spokes person, Elaine Androcovich.

Initial testing at Morristown Medical Center last month showed the lead in the water at 100 Madison Ave. was 73 times greater than the federal action limit in one of the 39 samples tested.

Twenty-eight out of 39 samples tested by the hospital on Feb. 22 were above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s action limit of 15 parts per billion, Atlantic Health System said.

Open faucet, water is running, tinted black and white image

Three on-site locations also exceeded 700 parts per billion, while seven off-site locations exceeded 300 parts per billion.

Nearly a thousand people have been tested so far for lead exposure, but the hospital has not released its findings.

Morristown Medical Center spokeswoman Elaine Andrecovich has said patients, guests and employees who ingested tap water at the 100 Madison Ave. location between Jan. 22 and Feb. 25 may have been exposed to lead.

The agency was advised by the licensed operator of Morristown Medical Center water system on February 17th that its corrosion control system had been offline for an undetermined amount of time. The system is used to prevent lead from leaking into the pipes and fixtures that could then reach the water itself.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventon, there is no safe lead level in children. Even at low levels, lead has been shown to affect intelligence, the ability to pay attention and academic achievement. The hospital has made immediate changes by switching all general use to bottled water until the situation is resolved. The center has also made calls to patients who may have had higher risk of exposure than others.

The facility mentioned they do semi-annual water inspections. How often are you checking your water systems?

What can facility owners do?

Pipette and the specimen examinating in laboratory

Water treatment is necessary for drinking water disinfection, in order to protect against Legionella and other microorganisms that can occur when water is heated and cooled.

Facility owners are asking what can be done to protect their facilities from risk of infection to their water systems. Experts in the field have established a best practice standard for what should be done based on the scientific and time-tested process of HACCP management.

This process involves forming a team to identify hazards that may be within your water system and from that point a control system is developed. Verification procedures are developed to make sure functionality is confirmed.

This control system could then be monitored using an EAM/CMMS to identify any changes to the system.

EAM/CMMS in your Medical Center

EAM tracks the entire enterprise asset portfolio, including physical assets, equipment and buildings, fixed assets and consumables, while CMMS tracks a subset of that.

EAM will track the life cycle of your water system allowing staff to prepare for maintenance in the future to protect not only your assets but your consumers, which is where CMMS comes into play by focusing on the equipment life.

Instead of waiting for a semi-annual checkup or taking a reactive approach, especially at the expense of other’s lives, you have the ability to be proactive and implement the use of an EAM/CMMS to track your assets daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

This will allow your operation to run smoother, notice when red flags are approaching and coming up with a solution before a problem occurs.