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Morris Hospital back to delivering babies as clean-up continues

Morris Hospital is slowly getting back to being fully operational, but it will be at least early next week before it will be approved to start admitting patients again.

Tuesday the hospital was given approval by the Illinois Department of Public Health to resume “full inpatient obstetrical care only, in addition to opening its GI lab and minor procedure room,” according to a press release.

This means they can deliver babies again.

Arrangements have been made with OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa to provide food service for its obstetrical patients since Morris’ cafeteria is not up and running yet.

“We are delighted that our Family Birthing Suites is back to full operations today,” said Mark Steadham, president and CEO. “We’ve shared this excellent news with our obstetricians, pediatricians and anesthesiologists, and now want to get the word out to expecting moms so they know they will be able to deliver here as planned.”

On Monday, the hospital started offering outpatient laboratory testing and the majority of its diagnostic cardiac, imaging and pulmonary testing services again.

The hospital had been unable to provide these services since Thursday, when flooding took over its parking lot and the basement where the pharmacy, laboratory, cafeteria, medical records and information technology are housed. Water did not reach any patient areas.

On Thursday, 47 patients were evacuated due to the flooding. Of the 47 patients, 25 were transferred to other hospitals and 22 went home or to their nursing homes.

Also on Thursday, ambulances were diverted to other local hospitals and this continues. The emergency room is still open to walk-ins, but patients cannot be admitted.

EMS workers on ambulances can decide to bring patients to the hospital if they feel the patient does not have enough time to make it to another hospital.

“If they feel a patient’s life is at risk, it’s their decision to stop here,” said Public Relations Manager Janet Long on Tuesday.

If this is the case — and it has been at times in the last five days — the patient would be stabilized at Morris, but then would have to be transported elsewhere.

The lower level of the hospital is 75,000 square feet and was covered in three to four inches of water. The basement flooded from water reaching the receiving dock area. Hospital staff, emergency responders, and volunteers worked to fill and stack sandbags to stop the water Thursday, but water still reached the inside.

Hospital officials made the call to evacuate patients on the advice of the Emergency Management Agency, which was worried about water continuing to rise Friday because at that time the river had not crested yet.

The cost estimate to fix the damage is in excess of $1 million, said Steadham Monday, and that estimate does not include the loss of business from being unable to admit patients.

Steadham said it would be at least seven more days until the hospital is able to return to admitting patients.

SERVPRO cleaning company is working 24 hours a day with about 40 people on each shift to clean up and decontaminate the hospital. The hospital also is working closely with an industrial hygienist who will certify all of the work has been done according to requirements.

All carpet that came in contact with water is being removed, as is the lower section of the drywall that got wet.

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