Millard Fillmore Hospital was founded in 1872, as the Buffalo Homeopathic Hospital. Originally located on Washington Street in Buffalo, New York, the hospital moved to a house on Cottage Street in 1874 in order to expand the number of patients it could treat. In 1911, a modern facility was constructed for the hospital on Gates Circle. In the early Twentieth Century, advancements in modern medicine swayed public opinion against homeopathy. In 1923, the hospital’s name was changed to Millard Fillmore Hospital, and it began to hire trained medical doctors. During the next several decades, Millard Fillmore Hospital completed several expansions, developing a reputation as a center of innovation in the medical field. In 1960, surgeons at Millard Fillmore Hospital were the first in the United States to successfully implant a cardiac pacemaker. Prior to closing its doors in 2012, Millard Fillmore Hospital was a 189 bed facility that offered medical services for emergencies, cardiology, neurology and vascular medicine. Since it closed, its hospital services have moved to Gates Vascular Institute and Buffalo General Medical Center. Demolition of the former Millard Fillmore Hospital is expected to take place in the fall of 2015.
Up until the late 1970s, laborers utilized asbestos-containing materials during the hospital’s initial construction and in maintenance procedures. Laborers removed and applied asbestos-containing joint compound, pipe covering, insulating cement, block insulation, gaskets and fireproof insulation. Workers who handled asbestos-containing materials are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Asbestos-containing ready-mix joint compound (mud) was used during construction and renovations at Millard Fillmore Hospital. Joint compound was applied over drywall tape seams and between sheets of drywall. After one layer of joint compound dried, workers sanded the joint compound to a smooth surface and another layer of joint compound was applied. Sanding joint compound caused asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne, which workers inhaled.
Millard Fillmore Hospital was heated by steam produced in boilers. A network of pipes delivered steam to radiators throughout the hospital. Boilers, pipes, valves and pumps within the heating system were covered with asbestos-containing insulation. When workers performed repairs, the insulation was removed. New insulation was applied after the repair procedures were completed. When asbestos-containing insulation was removed and applied, asbestos fibers were released into the air. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust, and performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Asbestos-containing gaskets were also utilized throughout the heating system at Millard Fillmore Hospital. Gaskets ensured a tight seal between pipe flanges and other equipment, such as boilers, pumps and valves. Gaskets were frequently removed and replaced during maintenance procedures. When a gasket was replaced, it was scraped off the flange. The gasket replacement process emitted asbestos dust into the air.
Fireproofers applied asbestos-containing fireproof insulation to the structural steel throughout Millard Fillmore Hospital. Fireproof insulation was manufactured as a dry mixture of asbestos, cement and linen, and it was packaged in heavy paper bags. During the fireproofing process, workers dumped bags of fireproof insulation into a machine, where it was mixed with water and sprayed onto the structural steel with a hose. Mixing and applying fireproof insulation created large clouds of asbestos-containing dust that remained airborne for days. Additionally, tradesmen disturbed fireproof insulation after it was applied in order to install pipes, ventilation equipment or framing studs. When fireproof insulation was disturbed, asbestos fibers were emitted in close proximity to the workers.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects for Millard Fillmore Hospital were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed in connection with the construction of Millard Fillmore Hospital and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.