Duluth Clinic's First Street Building to remain closed Wednesday after complaints of strong odorUpdate: Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic’s First Street Building will be closed Wednesday because investigators were unable to identify the source of a strong odor that sickened some employees today and forced the evacuation of the clinic.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic’s First Street Building will be closed Wednesday because investigators were unable to identify the source of a strong odor that sickened some employees today and forced the evacuation of the clinic.
Twelve employees and two patients complained of symptoms from the odor, said Kim Kaiser, spokeswoman for Essentia Health. She said people described it as an “ether gas” odor. The symptoms were faintness and headaches, which suggested a potential air quality issue, she said. A few needed medical follow-up but most felt fine after getting fresh air, Kaiser said.
The clinic was closed for the rest of the day while investigators tried to pinpoint the source of the odor. An air-quality company and the Duluth Fire Department’s chemical assessment team investigated, but the odor was gone by afternoon and no source was identified.
“They weren’t able to find anything that was the source, so the building will be closed tomorrow,” Kaiser said this evening. “Patients will be receiving telephone calls alerting them.”
The First Street Building houses outpatient services including the cancer center and departments for pediatrics, digestive and breast health, internal medicine, radiology and obstetrics and gynecology.
The clinic serves patients from across the region, and Kaiser didn’t know exactly how many appointments would be canceled.
It will take extra work to reschedule all of the canceled appointments, Kaiser said, “but we wanted to err on the side of caution and keep the safety of patients and employees in mind. That’s what’s most important.”