Clinic forced to close due to water leak

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Access Family Care staff push water out of the lobby after a frozen pipe fitting prompted a sprinkler pipe to burst in the foyer and cause a large amount of water to gush from the ceiling, quickly spreading into the lobby. Julia Kilmer/

Record-breaking temps cause pipe fitting to fail

Staff and patients at Access Family Care got a shock last week when, without warning, water began gushing from the ceiling in the foyer.

Nurse Manager Terry Purdom was the first to notice that something wasn’t quite right.

The term, “All in a day’s work” took on new meaning on Tuesday at Access Family Care in Cassville, when extreme temperatures caused a pipe fitting to fail and sprinkler pipe to burst, resulting in water gushing from the foyer ceiling at the clinic, quickly covering the lobby floors. Patients were escorted outside and the clinic was temporarily closed while staff assessed the situation and repaired the damages. Julia Kilmer/

“I came out and saw a hole in the ceiling and something lying on the floor in the lobby and picked it up and asked if anyone had been working there?” Purdom said. “And, it wasn’t three minutes later when water started gushing out. There is water everywhere.”

Staff tried to assess what had happened, sounding the building alarm and escorting all patients outside, including elderly, wheelchair-bound patients. Patients who were waiting for appointments in the lobby adjacent to the foyer gasped when they saw the rush of water

coming from the ceiling, that quickly covered the floors.

The piece that Purdom had found lying on the floor was a broken fitting to a sprinkler pipe.

Plumbing contractor Nathan Burt, who was nearby at the time of the incident, was called for assistance and quickly arrived to assess the situation.

According to Burt, the extreme temperatures caused the fitting to freeze and break off, prompting a pipe to burst and water to gush from the area.

“When something freezes, it expands,” he said.

Having a fitting freeze, as opposed to pipes, is not something that happens often, Burt said.

“It’s pretty uncommon,” he said. “But I’ve had drain lines freezing, too [lately due to the extreme cold].”

The clinic was forced to cancel appointments for the rest of the day and close temporarily while they addressed the damage.

Dr. Debra Davidson, chief operating officer for Access Family Care Clinics, provided an update.

“We just reopened [on Friday],” she said. “What happened is a sprinkler pipe had burst in the ceiling, and so we got it shut off, and had the fire marshal, plumber, electrician and Service Master come out to figure out the best solution. It was clean water, and we had everything tested. The walls and floors are dry, but we’re just leaving dryers and dehumidifiers going for another 24 hours for added measure to ensure that everything is good to go.”

Davidson said the clinic did not want to put any patients in harm’s way, so had them escorted outside and temporarily canceled appointments.

“The water didn’t go everywhere [in the building], but just gushed out real fast and we couldn’t have patients slipping on wet floors,” Davidson said. “It was hundreds of gallons of water. We’ve had very mild winters since that building was built, and the sprinkler pipes are in a more exposed area [in the foyer], and with the extreme cold weather, they just froze up. We had another another clinic in another location where the same thing happened.”

“Thankfully, no one was hurt,” Purdom said.

The clinic sustained some damages, which are are being addressed.

“We still have to have some ceiling repair where the pipe broke through the ceiling tiles, and we will be taking care of that,” Purdom said.

Patients who need to reschedule a medical or dental appointment can reach the clinic at 417-847-0057.

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