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10 staffers sent to hospital after falling ill at Epping Regional Health Center

Union Leader Correspondent

August 09. 2018 5:37PM
Emergency crews responded to Epping Regional Health Center Thursday afternoon after 10 workers felt ill. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING — As many as 10 employees working at Epping Regional Health Center were sent to the hospital Thursday afternoon after suddenly becoming ill.

The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m. and forced dozens of staff and patients to leave the medical building on Route 125, which provides primary care, pediatrics and other services.

The 10 staffers were taken to Exeter Hospital as a precaution, Fire Chief Don DeAngelis said. The cause of their illness is being investigated. DeAngelis said officials have ruled out carbon monoxide as a cause.

The incident comes a year to the day after 19 people became sick at Exeter Hospital, which is affiliated with Epping Regional Health Center.

Emergency crews were called to the hospital on Aug. 11, 2017, after several employees in the operating room department began feeling dizzy and nauseous. After an extensive investigation by the fire department and other agencies, officials were unable to determine a cause.

According to Debra Vasapolli, spokesman for Exeter Health Resources, Thursday’s incident began when three employees began feeling dizzy and had a “general unwell feeling.”

Fire Chief Don DeAngelis said the number eventually grew to 10; their symptoms included dizziness, light-headedness and chest tightness.

DeAngelis said the initial call came from Exeter Hospital. Fire crews and ambulances from several communities responded to assist with evaluating patients and transporting them to the hospital.

Asked to comment on the timing of the two similar incidents involving affiliates of Exeter Health Resources, Vasapolli said they are unrelated.

“I would say coincidence. I’m telling you it’s coincidence. We don’t have anything identified ... We really try to take very cautious steps when we have anybody that’s feeling unwell, and again, as a total abundance of caution, we evacuated the building,” she said.

Vasapolli said she wasn’t sure when the Epping health center would reopen.

A hazardous materials team is expected to conduct additional air testing inside the building.

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