Emory University Hospital Midtown experienced changes in operations on June 1 due to two large water main breaks near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard NW that occurred on May 31, forcing the hospital to relocate some patients and divert ambulance traffic, according to a media statement by Emory Healthcare. Four water breaks left facilities and buildings in the southern region of Atlanta without a reliable source of water and low water pressure.

The hospital resumed normal operations on June 2. Atlanta Watershed announced on the evening of June 1 that they completed repairing the water main break. Atlanta later lifted the boil water advisory for the areas impacted by the main break near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard NW on June 3.

According to Emory Healthcare’s statement, the emergency department diverted ambulance traffic, except for patients with urgent heart concerns, to accommodate for the main break. The hospital still accepted patients who walked in or drove to the emergency department as normal, as well as for emergent or urgent surgical cases.

Emory University Hospital Midtown changed its operations due to two large water main breaks near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard NW. Courtesy of Emory University

Emory Healthcare stated that it moved some laboratory testing and patients in need of dialysis to other Emory hospitals. Most outpatient appointments were also rescheduled or relocated to other Emory locations.

“To keep the hospital cool and air conditioning running, 58,000 gallons of water have been brought in via six tanker trucks to use in the hospital’s chillers and cooling towers,” Emory Healthcare wrote. “The water is being supplied by a local fire department and delivered by a tanker truck company.”

The hospital also distributed bottled water to patients, and food services staff limited menu options but continued to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention food preparation guidelines, according to the statement.

Emory Healthcare added that Emory’s Midtown hospital will continue to deliver “safe, quality care” to patients.

“Our teams are working around the clock to care for patients during this challenging time,” the statement reads. “We are sorry for any inconvenience this brings to patients, families and visitors.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued a boil water advisory news release on June 1 stating that the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management was repairing water main breaks on a 48-inch and 36-inch transmission line. He advised residents and property owners to boil their water before use and discouraged drinking from public water fountains in the affected area.

Some residents expressed that they were confused about the city’s updates. One user commented on X about the Department of Watershed Management’s lack of urgency, stating that there has not been a press conference or regular updates.

“We are lucky that we can drive to other neighborhoods and buy gallons of water to use,” the user wrote in their post. “Not everyone has that luxury.”

In an address to Atlanta residents on June 1, Dickens apologized for Atlanta’s response and said that the city “did not do the best job of communicating.” He said that the city would provide updates on at least a two-hour basis until the issue was resolved.

An inefficient alignment of three major lines that intersect at Joseph E. Boone Boulevard NW and James P. Brawley Drive NW caused the water breaks. This comes after a water main break earlier this year on the 800 block of McLendon Drive, which caused water discoloration issues in Harris Hall.

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Lauren Yee (25Ox) is a news editor at The Emory Wheel. She is from Hong Kong and is majoring in religion. Outside of the Wheel, Yee serves on the boards of the Phi Gamma Literary Society and the Oxford Ensemble of Shakespearean Artists. In her free time, you can find her playing the saxophone, watching musicals or enjoying an iced oat milk matcha!