Plantation General Hospital closed in E.R. mystery
By Kevin Smith
Posted June 6 2004
Doctors at Plantation General Hospital ordered a lockdown of the facility Saturday night, with no one allowed to enter or leave the building, after they were concerned about symptoms of a handful of emergency room patients.
Doors were shut at the 264-bed hospital, at 401 NW 42nd Ave., for at least 45 minutes and possibly more than two hours, according to hospital staff and the relative of a patient in the facility at the time.
"Patients came into the emergency room that presented similar symptoms," said Michelle Marsh, the hospital's director of marketing and business. "That's why the lockdown went into effect."
Marsh declined to describe the symptoms or address the specific disease doctors feared when they ordered the quarantine, but one witness said nose-and-mouth masks were distributed in at least one portion of the hospital.
Marsh said the quarantine was lifted at 10:45 p.m. She believed it lasted about 45 minutes, but was not certain.
Crystal Kramer of Fort Lauderdale said her sister-in-law, Kimberly Pina, was feeling short of breath around 7 p.m. and went to the hospital's emergency room. Pina, of Fort Lauderdale, had not yet seen a doctor when the lockdown took effect between 8 and 8:30 p.m., Kramer said.
"A doctor came out, gave everyone masks and told them that no one was going in and no one was going out," said Kramer, recounting what she was told by her sister-in-law.
Kramer said that Plantation police officers were guarding the doors at the hospital. Police declined comment late Saturday night, referring calls to Plantation General.
The uncertainty of the situation frightened Kramer who made several fruitless calls to the hospital to find out what was happening.
"To hear a hospital sound chaotic, that's kind of scary," she said.