Athol Hospital suspends endoscopy procedures


Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 04-24-2023 6:34 PM

ATHOL — Following a routine equipment assessment, Athol Hospital has suspended endoscopy procedures in the campus’ two operating rooms until further notice.

According to a statement sent by Vice President of External Affairs Dawn Casavant, there have been ongoing issues with the surgical suite’s ventilation system over the years. These problems have been addressed at different times, but not fully resolved. Casavant did not provide specific information on what the problems were or if a specific incident prompted the suspension of services.

“We made the decision that we would suspend the use of the Athol [operating rooms], understanding we have capacity at Heywood, in the interim,” she wrote in an email.

Heywood Healthcare, a community health care system serving north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, is comprised of Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Athol Hospital, Heywood Medical Group and The Quabbin Retreat in Petersham.

Casavant said staff were informed about the suspension of services via leadership and human resources, and are being offered the opportunity to work elsewhere in the health system. Until more information is available regarding a solution and the resources needed to address the HVAC problems, a date for when services can resume at Athol Hospital cannot be determined. According to Casavant, all patients will be contacted to reschedule their procedures at the Heywood campus where gastrointestinal services will be provided by Dr. Phani Molakatalla, Dr. Brett Ancowitz and Dr. Thomas Dunzendorfer.

“The safety of our patients and staff is always our utmost priority,” Molakatalla said in the statement. “We will only resume the procedures on the Athol campus when it is appropriate to do so.”