St. Luke's flooding
A cleanup crew member vacuums standing water from around an MRI machine at St. Luke's Hospital's Monteagle Medical Center. Photo by Joe Eskenazi

A ceiling pipe on the fourth floor of the Monteagle Medical Center at St. Luke’s Hospital burst overnight, inundating four levels and the basement with water.

St. Luke’s patients showing up for a.m. appointments were turned away; they negotiated soaked hallways and carpets and slalomed between trash cans catching dripping water and filled with dissolved ceiling material.

The water pooling up on the floors — four inches deep at one point, according to a cleanup crew member — was fresh and not tainted with sewage. “That,” said one hospital official, “is the only good news here.”

Devendra Deo, the St. Luke’s campus’ chief engineer, could not immediately answer just how much water had soaked the Monteagle building, how much damage the structure had absorbed, or how long its availability would be compromised. “The building is open,” he said. “It’s just a couple of floors.” When pressed for details he smiled politely and said, “This is a hard day.”

The Monteagle Medical Center houses numerous outpatient clinics and medical technicians. It is separate from the hospital’s emergency room and trauma wing.

Photo by Joe Eskenazi

The water originating on the building’s fourth floor leaked downward, eventually pooling in the basement. A technician encountered there said he hadn’t yet heard of any pieces of equipment being ruined by the water: “It looked like it mostly stayed in the walls.” This, too, was good news. Mission Local observed cleanup crews with powerful vacuum devices sucking up large puddles of standing water gathered around MRI machines or X-Ray tables.

Multiple St. Luke’s staffers working desk jobs or attending abandoned pieces of machinery affirmed conditions in the building must be safe, or they’d have been sent home.

Hopefully nothing important was in this box. Photo by Joe Eskenazi.

That was cold comfort to the patients who were indeed sent home, or at least directed to other Sutter campuses.

One heavily pregnant woman on the fourth floor was told she could not get her EKG.

“I just wasted a lot of time and money coming down here,” she said calmly. “They told me they didn’t have an appointment for six weeks. But I’m due in four.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Cleanup crew members work around an X-Ray machine, sucking water off the floor. Photo by Joe Eskenazi

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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