Columbus Regional Hospital reopens - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Columbus Regional Hospital reopens

Nearly two months after floods devastated parts of southern Indiana, Columbus Regional Hospital has re-opened its emergency department.  But it could be several more months before the hospital is completely operational.

Columbus Regional Hospital opened what it calls its "interim" emergency department.  It has 12 beds operating instead of the normal 20.  But this road to recovery is new ground for the hospital that had never closed before in 91 years prior to this year's flood.

Beds are being changed and nurses are back at their stations in the emergency department of Columbus Regional Hospital.

While patients still cannot stay overnight, it is a stark contrast from mid-June when large plastic ventilation tubes hung from the ceiling as nurses hauled shelves instead of tending to patients.

157 patients were evacuated during the flood.  Damage estimates now exceed $180 million.  CEO Jim Bickel explains, "That includes business interruption, expenses occurred while we were shut down, as well as facility restoration, equipment repair, and replacement was necessary.  All told we estimate around $180 million."

Despite this, the hospital kept its staff of nearly 1800 people on the payroll while the hospital was closed.  Bickel says, "It was the right thing to do not only for our employees, but also for the economic health and viability of this community."

Nurse Kelly Turner has been helping out, cleaning slides from the lab.  "They were in the basement.  So they're kinda muddy, kinda dirty.  So there is a bunch of us sitting under a tent and so we're all just washing and talking and, you know -- doing the best we can."  She works on the cardiovascular unit, which won't be open until October.

On Monday, Turner and other hospital staff said goodbye to mobile emergency units from North Carolina which arrived in late June to help with emergency care.

The hope is to re-open rest of the hospital by early fall.  But there is still much to be done to mitigate future risk of flooding.

Bickel says, "We had many of our infrastructure, our medical gases, electrical, IT, heating, ventilation all housed in the basement.  So we're having to bypass the basement because that's going to take several more months to repair that."

The hospital hopes to offer inpatient and surgical services by October though the road to recovery could last well into 2009 before the hospital is fully operational.

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