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Morris Hospital expects slow return to normal

Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 4:58 a.m. CDT
(Herald Photo by Eric Lutz)
Ambulances from several different municipalities lined up outside Morris Hospital Thursday afternoon to assist in the evacuation of patients to other medical facilities.

Little had changed at Morris Hospital Friday afternoon, but preliminary clean-up was under way.

By about 6 p.m. Thursday afternoon, 47 patients were evacuated from the hospital at the advisement of the Emergency Management Agency, said Janet Long, public relations manager of the hospital.

Friday she said patients were still not being admitted in to the hospital. The emergency room was still open for walk-in patients, but anyone who needs to be admitted would end up being transferred. Ambulance traffic also continues to be diverted to other hospitals.

The hospital is no longer in danger of any more flooding, but clean-up will take time, said Long. Staff on hand was minimal Friday, depending on how much function specific departments had.

For most of Thursday and Friday, the main entrance was the only usable entrance to the hospital, but by Friday evening, the emergency doors were open again.

X-ray, ultrasound, mammography and CT scans are being rescheduled to the Morris Hospital Ridge Road Campus in Channahon or the Diagnostic & Rehabilitative Center in Morris.

“Everything is not going to come back up all in one day. It will be a couple of services a day,” said Long. Services have resumed for patients who come to Morris Hospital for intravenous therapy, which is IV therapy. The hospital is also preparing to start outpatient laboratory testing again soon.

No patient care areas experienced flooding, but water did get into the basement of the hospital, where the laboratory, pharmacy, kitchen, materials services, medical records and information technology are housed.

During the day Thursday, hospital staff, emergency responders and volunteers made and laid sandbags in front of the hospital’s receiving deck, where water was entering the basement. This slowed the water. Long said Friday those sandbags were being taken for use elsewhere in the city.

“The depth of water that came into our lower level was 3 to 4 inches and impacted every department on that floor,” says Mark Steadham, president & CEO of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers, in a press release. “For the safety of our patients and our staff, the affected areas of the hospital must be properly cleaned and dried before we can return to full operations.”

Steadham said hospital officials have been in touch with the Illinois Department of Public Health and that discussions are currently taking place with several restoration contractors to determine when the official clean up process can begin and how long it will take.

The call to evacuate Thursday was made when the hospital officials were advised that the river had not crested yet and, therefore, flooding conditions could worsen Friday.

On Friday, the river crested by evening, but water surrounding the hospital in its parking lots and side streets had receded prior. A large amount of debris was left behind.

“Right now we are putting all of our focus on returning to full operations as soon as possible so we can get back to doing what we do best, and that’s taking care of our community,” said Steadham in a release.

Of the 47 patients evacuated, 25 were transferred to other hospitals and 22 went home or to their nursing home. Fifteen went to Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, six to Silver Cross Hospital, and one each to Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, OSF St. James in Pontiac, and Loyola Medical Center in Maywood.

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