MERIDEN — Normal service resumed at MidState Medical Center Friday night after the hospital was locked down for about three hours after a white powdery substance on a patient started making staff sick.
Three nurses and the patient, who came into the emergency room for treatment, were quarantined and treated for minor injuries, according to Meriden Police Sgt. John Mennone.
“Some of the nurses that were caring for this individual started becoming sick as well,” Mennone said. “They were experiencing nausea and some headaches as well.”
At approximately 5:20 p.m., a white male in his late 20s or early 30s entered the emergency room with what police described as a white powdery substance on him. He also had several packages of the substance in his pockets, Mennone said.
Police have not identified the male, but said he was conscious and cooperating. It is not clear why he entered the emergency room.
“He was probably suffering the same symptoms that the nurses were,” Mennone said.
Mennone said no other patients were affected in “any way, shape or form.” All patients in the emergency room were moved to other parts of the hospital, police said. All hospital entrances were closed.
Authorities determined the substance was “inert,” according to Steve Coates, senior communications specialist with Hartford HealthCare.
“Basically, it’s a substance that’s not harmful to the community,” Mennone said. He said he didn’t know if the substance had been determined to have caused the nurses’ symptoms.
Firefighters responded to the emergency room at about 6:45 p.m. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was also asked to come to the scene, as well as a bomb squad and the city fire department. The hospital reopened around 9 p.m.
Hunter’s Ambulance Executive Vice President David Lowell said patients were diverted to hospitals in Southington and New Britain. Ambulances were also staged outside MidState to treat arriving patients.
Officials tested the substance and assessed hospital staff and patients who were nearby when the substance was found, Lowell said.
Police closed driveways leading to the emergency room for about three hours. At least one person was seen being put in an ambulance.