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Virginia quake rattles hospitals in DC region

Monday August 22, 2011
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A powerful earthquake centered in central Virginia sent reverberations across the region Tuesday afternoon, shaking hospitals and office buildings but leaving little damage.

The 5.9 quake, which had an epicenter about 80 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., in Mineral, Va., was felt from North Carolina to Canada, according to USAToday.com. It hit the region at 1:51 p.m. local time.

The fourth floor and the ED were evacuated at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, Md., immediately after the quake, according to hospital spokeswoman Martha D. Mallonee. About 50 patients, visitors and staff returned to the building within 15 minutes, however, when an initial survey showed no damage. The building later was cleared by Harford County's Department of Inspections.

None of the healthcare facilities contacted by Nurse.com reported any injuries, but a few patients at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., reported some anxiety-related problems, a spokeswoman said.

Many facilities, including Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md., activated their command centers after the quake. Some had deactivated the centers a couple of hours later.

All of the facilities within Inova Health System, based in Falls Church, Va., were operating normally, according to a spokesman, and were experiencing only phone service issues, likely because of heavy usage in the region.

Patient care was not interrupted at most facilities, including Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where a building inspection deemed the facility secure. Greater Baltimore Medical Center reported that a Baltimore County building inspector said no damage had taken place at the facility.

As a precaution, all non-emergency procedures at Sentara Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge, Va., were postponed, according to a spokeswoman.

Some healthcare facilities turned to social media to inform the public after the quake.

"Our patients, visitors and employees at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital are safe following today's earthquake. No evacuations were needed," read the Rockville, Md., hospital's Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reported via Twitter that "Hospital patients, visitors and staff are safe. No injuries reported. Structural assessment complete and no damage found."


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