Since early Monday, all hospitals, healthcare facilities and residents of Austin, Texas, have had to boil water for drinking and food preparation due to floodwaters overwhelming the city's water treatment facilities.
Travis County authorities expect the boil water order to last 10 to 14 days as the city works to restore its water treatment system, which serves nearly 900,000 people. Heavy rains last week inundated the Highland Lakes above the city—from which the city gets its water—with mud and silt, slowing down the water treatment process.
The Seton Healthcare Family, owned by Ascension, activated its emergency management team just after midnight on Monday morning at its six hospitals in Austin, including Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, as well as at its clinics and outpatient centers.
Seton staff and patients are using bottled and boiled water in the cafeterias and for personal consumption, said Seton spokeswoman Kathleen Hadlock. Alcohol-based hand rubs are being used for hand hygiene.
While there's been a citywide run on bottled water, Hadlock said Seton's facilities have been able to obtain an adequate supply, supplemented by a supply provided by state and county authorities. Tens of thousands of gallons of bottled water have been distributed throughout patient care sites.
Hadlock said the boil-water precautions so far have not caused any disruption in patient care, and no one has gotten sick due to contaminated water.