University Hospitals shares update with employees after fertility clinic failure

CLEVELAND -- University Hospitals on Thursday shared an update with its employees after more than 4,000 embryos were likely destroyed in a storage tank failure at UH's Ahuja Medical Center in March.

The memo from UH Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Zenty III to hospital employees was shared with FOX 8 News on Friday.

Zenty says UH has taken "several actions as a result of the incident to improve laboratory safety" at the fertility clinic.

He says the hospital has changed equipment at the lab including new tanks, alarms and remote monitoring.  In response to increasing demand for fertility services and new patients, the hospital has hired additional embryologists, nurses and support staff.

Here is the entire memo:

"I’d like to provide you with this update about developments surrounding the event at our UH Fertility Clinic.

We have taken several actions as a result of the incident to improve laboratory safety at the fertility clinic. We’ve changed equipment at the lab, including new tanks, alarms and remote monitoring. In response to increasing demand for fertility services and new patients, we have hired additional embryologists, nurses and support staff.

We have completed a review of all temperature-regulated storage systems at all entities within our health system. We are developing a work plan for monitoring of these areas for the future to ensure that the controls we have in place are appropriate.

We also completed a broader assessment of risks system-wide. We ask that employees fully embrace our “Speak Up” culture and report any potential risks that might arise now or in the future, particularly those relating to patient or employee safety. The safety of patients, employees and others who use our services is our foremost priority.

The fertility clinic event will not affect our ability to serve the healthcare needs of our community. We have insurance programs in place to financially protect our health system’s assets. Since the event, our patient volumes across the system continue at expected levels, and our fertility clinic has added 115 new patients.

We will learn from our experience and share the best practices we expect to develop to enhance fertility programs everywhere. We have cooperated fully with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) in their reviews. We are confident we have successfully addressed their findings and meet the requirements to maintain our Medicare certification and CAP accreditation at the UH Fertility Clinic. As we learn more, we will plan be a national convener and voice for consistency in fertility clinic safety.

I look forward to our upcoming employee forums, which are scheduled for May 8-25 to include 17 UH entities and where we can further discuss advancements of our health system.

I’m grateful to our providers and staff who have engaged in our assessment and process improvements, and especially our fertility clinic staff who continue to demonstrate the highest level of compassion to our patients. Together, we will strive to help ensure that an event such as this doesn’t happen again, anywhere, at any time."

**Continuing coverage, here**