West Liberty, Ky (WKYT) - State officials joined local leaders in Morgan County Monday as they celebrated the restoration of the tornado-damaged Morgan County ARH Hospital.
Monday's ribbon cutting and grand re-opening ceremony comes after five months of work to repair nearly $4 million in damages the Morgan County ARH Hospital suffered during the devastating tornado that ravaged the West Liberty area March 2.
In addition to the damages suffered at the hospital and the clinic, major damage occurred at the ARH home health agency, home medical equipment store and payment posting center, all of which were located in the hard-hit and heavily damaged downtown West Liberty area.
The hospital and the clinic housed inside sustained the brunt of the damage when the second floor windows of the hospital were blown out, the roof was damaged, exterior doors were torn off their hinges, and cars were demolished in the parking lot when the tornado struck. Fortunately, there were no patients or staff injured during the storm.
Despite millions of dollars in damages, the hospital emergency room never closed and operated for a period of time on emergency power and heat through generators. Within days the hospital reopened its clinic, home health, home care store and pharmacy services. The damage to the hospital's second floor prevented inpatient admissions for several months after the storm and required major work to get the inpatient floor operational again.
ARH President and CEO Jerry W. Haynes says regardless of the work that was required to repair damages to the building and equipment, fortunately, the quick thinking of ARH staff resulted in no injuries to patients or staff during the storm. "We would like to salute the staff and management of Morgan County ARH for their incredible courage and strength during a time of true crisis. Stationed at their patients' besides they never wavered in their duty to safe guard the patients," Haynes says. "We would also like to commend the citizens of West Liberty, their elected officials, and the countless numbers of first responders, volunteers, and outside agencies working shoulder to shoulder to rebuild the community."
Gavalchik says from food, clothing and other supplies to monetary donations, in the hours and days following the storm there was an overwhelming show of support for the Morgan County community. "It has been said that stress, pressure, and calamity act as a winnowing fan that brings out the true character of people, organizations, and communities. In this instance I got to see the resilient, positive, determined, and kind character of not only West Liberty, but of my entire ARH family as well," Gavalchik says. "I would never wish an experience like this on anyone, yet I know I was given a very special honor and blessing; because through it I got to see the very best of people."
Following the ceremony, Morgan County ARH hosted a Back to School Bash where local school children received free school supplies, free food, entertainment and the opportunity to win giveaways. The school supplies were donated by employees of UK Chandler Hospital, Kentucky Children's Hospital, UK Good Samaritan Hospital and several other areas of UK HealthCare.
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