Recovering from Tornado Damage, Hospital Seeks Normalcy

John Commins, July 9, 2014

Less than twelve weeks after a strong tornado crippled a small Mississippi hospital, its interim CEO shares his thoughts on the way forward.

On April 28 Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS, was severely damaged by an EF4 tornado that killed nine people in the rural county located 90 miles northeast of Jackson.

Interim CEO Paul Black had been on the job for less than one week when the storm crippled the 27-bed hospital and forced the evacuation and temporary closure of an adjacent nursing home.

Black spoke with me in the days after the storm about the medical center's efforts to provide care to a physically and emotionally scarred community.

He spoke with me again this week to provide an update on the medical center's recovery.

HLM: How have things changed since last we spoke?

Black: We got the temporary facility was up and running by May 19, so we were in a temporary hospital unit that was provided by [Federal Emergency Management Agency] within three weeks of the tornado. That gives us the ability to provide hospital services to the residents here in Winston County. It's not everything we have going, but we are getting close to doing that.

We have the clinic open that is in front of the hospital and it opened about one week later. So, we are back to where we consider our 'new normal' as far as hospital services. We are in the process of repairing part of our nursing home so we can get 76 residents back home.

That is scheduled to open and take patients on Sept. 1. As far as the long-term prospects, we are still collecting data from insurance companies, talking to FEMA and others to determine what our final funding amounts are going to be or what resources we are going to have to rebuild.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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