Emergency Room for Sumter Regional Hospital, Americus, GA

On March 1, 2007, Sumter Regional Hospital in Americus, Georgia took a direct hit by an F5 tornado. The storm filled the hospitals rooms with broken glass, dirt and debris, flooded the operating rooms and forced an evacuation of all 70 patients.

“No area of the hospital was not impacted by something – wind or water,” said Steve Machen, the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, “and all in three minutes.” Luckily, no one in the hospital was seriously hurt.

Proteus on-Demand Facilities responded to an emergency call on Sunday, March 4, 2007 to provide a temporary Emergency Room, bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities to support EMS inflatable tents and 50 hospital beds. Proteus was onsite at the devastated hospital in less than 4 hours. The Emergency Room was in operation less than 2 hours after that. The hard wall temporary structure, sporting a conical top (Chalet) stood across the street from the battered building that used to be the hospital.

Sumter Regional Hospital served a 10-county area in a triangle created by Macon, Albany and Columbus. Without this hospital, simple medical procedures, such as child birth, became a crisis.

When Shekedra Wilson went into labor, she had one thought after realizing the hospital was closed: “Where will I have my baby?”

At the first sign of labor cramps, she went straight to the only place she knew, Sumter Regional Hospital. She labored in a temporary building amid tents across the street from what used to be the hospital where she had given birth two years prior. These tents served the city’s most basic urgent care needs.

The temporary structure and tents were an improvement from what had been available to patients less than one week prior. Before the temporary ER, urgent care was done at a local church. When the tents and structure arrived the entire hospital staff and local residents helped unload and set them up.

In the week following the opening, Sumter Regional Temporary Emergency Room treated about 40 patients a day – 20-30 fewer than before the storm.

Dr. Andrews, the Emergency Room Director, said the hospital’s commitment to the community has continued and is reflected in the work of the nurses and technicians at the tent complex.

“The building is great, but it’s the people who make Sumter Regional Hospital,” Dr. Andrews said.

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