Temporary hospital to open months after tornado

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A temporary hospital building is slated to open this year in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore after a deadly tornado struck the community’s hospital in May.

Health officials promised to rebuild a permanent hospital after demolition crews began tearing down the 45-bed facility and two adjacent medical office buildings in June.

In the meantime, Norman Regional Health System officials said a temporary facility is expected to open in late November or early December, The Norman Transcript reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/18m62kT ).

The emergency and urgent care treatment facility will have CT and X-ray capabilities and a lab. That means outpatient lab services can be performed in Moore while the new hospital is being built.

Joplin, Mo., also set up a temporary hospital after a deadly EF5 tornado hit the town in 2011. The same company that did the work there will lease modular units to the Norman Regional Health System in Oklahoma for two years.

About 170 employees and 30 patients were inside the medical center on May 20 when the deadly twister moved from the nearby town of Newcastle toward Moore. Patients, employees and an estimated 300 people from the community took shelter in the building’s cafeteria on the ground floor of the main building as the tornado raked Moore.

The tornado killed two dozen people and injured more than 300. Seven of the children who died were crushed when the tornado slammed into an elementary school about a mile from the hospital. No one taking shelter at the hospital was killed or seriously injured.

More than 40 Norman Regional Health System employees and eight volunteers lost their homes in the May tornadoes.

Norman Regional Health System CEO David Whitaker said the hospital’s care committee has distributed $400,000 donated from groups across the country to employees.

Some employees’ homes were damaged, but not destroyed, and many lost their cars.

“Every employee that was at work that day lost their cars,” Whitaker told the newspaper.

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Information from: The Norman Transcript, http://www.normantranscript.com

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