Odor forces nursing home evacuation

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 20, 2001

Ten employees of the Adams County Nursing Center were taking to local hospitals Monday after a chemical odor filtered through sections of the John R. Junkin Drive facility.

None of the center’s 111 residents were injured, and officials are still investigating what caused the fumes, said Eddie Crow, nursing center administrator. &uot;As far as I know, at this point, there was a chemical reaction that caused an odor (that) caused a nauseous gas in the facility,&uot; Crow said.

Of the 10 employees, whose names were not released, six were treated at Natchez Regional Medical Center, and four were treated at Natchez Community Hospital.

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As of 6:15 p.m. Monday, all but two had been released, and Crow said he expected those two to be released that evening.

&uot;It was real irritating to your breathing and all,&uot; said Natchez Fire Chief Gary Winborne about the fumes.

The employees complained of headaches and were exposed to the fumes while making sure none of the residents were left in the building after they were to be evacuated.

&uot;Our staff did a tremendous job in clearing the building,&uot; Crow said. &uot;We had our building cleared in approximately 10 minutes.&uot;

The problem began, at about 2 p.m., near a janitor’s closet at a service exit. It may have been caused by a mixture of Clorox and Lysol, Crow said.

Of the building’s six wings, the odor began in an area away from residential space, and did not spread past that wing and a dining room.

&uot;It did not dissipate all over the building,&uot; Crow said.

The employees, 54 on duty Monday, took the residents outside to designated evacuation areas. &uot;Our staff is to be commended on how they responded to the situation,&uot; Crow said.

The residents stayed outside until about 3:30 and firefighters used a fan to clear the fumes from the building, Winborne said.

The center notified the families and doctors of its residents. It also brought in extra staff Monday to keep a closer watch on the condition of the residents, Crow said.

Winborne said the incident appeared to be accidental but people need to be careful with Clorox so it will not come into contact with other chemicals.