NORWAY — Stephens Memorial Hospital is slowly returning to full service as the investigation continues into what caused smoke to fill part of the facility and force an evacuation.

The smoke disrupted operations and caused extensive damage but the cause has yet to be determined, hospital spokesperson Abbie Graiver said. “We are pending the formal results of the investigation from the Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the cause,” she said in a statement.

The Norway Fire Department responded to an activated fire alarm at the hospital on lower Main Street about 2:15 p.m. Sept. 17, after smoke was reported in the 24-bed critical access facility. Shortly after their arrival, calls were made to area fire and rescue crews for assistance in removing patients.

Hospital staff, with the assistance of nine ambulance services, helped to evacuate all 21 patients from the facility. Eleven of the patients were transferred to other facilities, including Maine Medical Center in Portland, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire, Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Market Square Health Care Center in Paris and Norway Rehabilitation Center.

The other 10 were discharged.

“Smoke and firefighting activities were the primary sources of damage,” Graiver said, and staff and cleaning crews have worked around the clock to bring impacted area back online.

“Although the incident caused significant disruption in care delivery, the Stephens operations and clinical teams have gone above and beyond to safely reopen the hospital,” Graiver said.

The emergency department resumed service by 10:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and is fully operational.

All outpatient services, including imaging and labs, reopened Monday.

The Family Birthplace remains closed for repairs. Graiver said the OB/GYN team is working with families and will arrange for service at alternate facilities if necessary. An area has been set aside if emergency labor and delivery services are needed.

Of the 24 inpatient rooms, 16 were available as of Wednesday. That includes four ICU beds, two of which are for patients with COVID-19.

Physician practices and outpatient rehabilitation services were not affected by the smoke damage and remain open.

Hospital President Andrea Patstone praised staff for their response and resilience during the incident.

“As we work through our recovery efforts and return to normal operations, I am confident that we will come back stronger than ever,” Patstone said in a statement.

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