After nearly nine months of remedial measures at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette Campus, surgical equipment is once again being sterilized on site.

For two weeks now, new sterilization equipment has been fully operational, but it wasn’t without a big cost.

Hospital CEO David Musyj says the problem originated when a pressure release valve failed, releasing decades of corrosion into the system.

“Unfortunately, some of the instruments were getting stained as a result of the age of the pipe," said Musyj.

The failure caused concerns about the sterility of medical devices, and ultimately cost the hospital $2 million. Musyj says much of the cost was thanks to remedial measures taken, which included shipping the tools to Toronto to be cleaned – and temporary storage units.

"Sterility is the basis for running a proper operating room,” says Thom Morris, the operations manager for the medical devices processing department at Ouellette campus. “That raised some flags, and we know that we had to make some changes to the way we were doing our business."

About $600,000 of the cost was to replace the old boiler with a new steam-to-steam system, a reverse osmosis water unit, and completely new stainless steel piping. The hospital also purchased new autoclaves at $85,000 a piece, and sonic cleaners at a price of $35,000 each.

While the equipment was down, hundreds of surgeries were postponed and dozens were cancelled while administrators scrambled to find a solution.

“People don't understand the process of taking spoiled instruments that have bene used on a previous patient, and making sure that those are pristine, sterile, and ready to go for another patient," says Morris.

The board of directors has learned the hospital is projecting a $5-million to $7-million operating budget deficit for this fiscal year.