Santa Paula Times

A gas leak Thursday afternoon closed access to Santa Paula Hospital for about two hours. A construction crew, working in the extension of 10th Street just above the hospital, broke a line in the street. Ambulances were diverted to other hospitals until The Gas Company shut off the line. Automobile traffic was detoured into the lower parking lot. There were no injuries. Photo by Brian D. Wilson

Gas leak at construction site shuts down hospital

August 01, 2007
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesAn industrial accident that caused a rupture to a major gas pipeline redirected traffic at Santa Paula Hospital Thursday afternoon until the pipe was repaired, according to a Santa Paula Police Department spokesman.The incident occurred July 26 at about 1:15 p.m. when construction equipment ruptured the pipe while grading a portion of the hillside above the hospital - located at 825 N. 10th Street - for the Comstock Homes development. The hospital was not evacuated, said Santa Paula Police Lt. Mike Saviers.The sound of the gas escaping the pipe was audible and Gas Company crews were dispatched to the scene. When the rupture occurred there was some possibility that ambulances bringing patients to the Emergency Room of the hospital, now a campus of Ventura County Medical Center, might have to be redirected to another medical facility.Christina Beach Thielst, Santa Paula Hospital’s chief operating officer, said that the hospital’s facility manager “pretty much immediately smelled gas,” and that traffic headed in or out of the main parking lot was halted. “We directed everyone coming up here to the lower parking lot,” and then “we were told by the Santa Paula Fire Department that... there was no imminent danger and we could continue to provide services, but to avoid the area” where the smell of gas could be detected.
Although the main and Emergency Room hospital entrances were closed to traffic, the rear door of SPH was opened and people were directed to use it. If ambulances had arrived at the hospital, they would have been directed to the alternate entrance, said Thielst.“We weren’t evacuated, it was business as usual... the reason we shut down those front doors was to avoid the gas. We also shut down our kitchen, but fortunately it was after mealtime and did not impact the patients.”The hospital was “locked down to the extent that anyone parked above the hospital at the clinic and medical offices parking lot and those parked directly in front of the hospital were not free to leave” until almost 3 p.m. “The staff, visitors, the patients, everyone responded wonderfully” to the situation, said Thielst. “There was not a peep or complaint out of anyone.”