A little more than six weeks after Hurricane Michael, Weems Memorial Hospital’s emergency room is back where it was used to be.
H.D. Cannington, Weems’ interim chief executive office, said the hospital sustained minor roof damage but had to make sure air quality was satisfactory before it could operate out of areas that had water intrusion or condensation.
On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14, the hospital had reopened its clinics in Apalachicola and Carrabelle, and offered round-the-clock emergency room coverage in a department that was relocated to the Weems West Medical Center, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Lab and x-ray also had to be relocated but have been operational since the ER reopened. Cannington said inpatients could be admitted beginning Wednesday, Nov. 7, and had four patients the first night.
The main entrance/lobby is still under the canopy on the front of the hospital but has been moved one door to the west.
The two Courtneys, Alford and Amison, both registered nurses, were on hand together with Diane Stratton, RN, and respiratory technician Cliff Peltier, along with others from the 16-person nursing staff on Monday, when the emergency department was relocated back inside the hospital to spruced-up rooms.
“The entire department has been cleaned and renovated by our staff,” said Cannington. “All patient care areas are fully-functional and non-clinical support departments will be moved back inside the hospital as these areas are brought back into service.”
Alford has been handling some administrative duties on an interim basis, as Becky Gibson, director of nursing, remains out on extended medical leave.
The emergency doctor crew from the Southland ER Group, led by Patrick Conrad M.D. Cheava Jacks M.D. and Vincent Ivers, M.D. staffs the emergency room.
Cannington said the hospital was insured under the county’s policy through the Florida League of Cities.
“They did a great job of contracting with Synergy NDS to head up the recovery efforts,” he said.
Synergy brought in Slay’s Restoration from Orange Park to handle the property restoration work and contracted with local and out of town firms to get specific jobs completed.
“A big thank you to the community for its support and patience, and to our board of directors and county commissioners,” Cannington said. “And especially to our employees and doctors who have continued to make lemonade out of lemons. No grumbling, no complaints, just doing what it takes to be able to take care of our patients and serve our community.”
The only part of the hospital operation that remains affected are the administrative offices, that had to be relocated to trailer space, but will soon be back, once the work there is completed.
Cannington said the swing bed program is stepping back up. He also is reviewing revised plans from Sacred Heart, and the Alliant-Tallahassee Memorial partnership, as to how they might manage the hospital.