Tornado-damaged hospital reopens

WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Hospital officials say an entire wing of Morgan County ARH Hospital was nothing but debris when the tornado rolled through West Liberty back on March 2, but today it's officially ready to take on new patients after five months of rebuilding.

"It's wonderful. I mean, to see what it looked like that night, you would have never thought that our hospital could be reopened," said nurse coordinator April Perkins.

After repairing nearly $4 million in damages to the hospital, workers say today's been a long time coming. Especially for those who rode out the storm inside.

"When I looked out, it was right there. I mean, I could just see debris. The windows blew out all over me. I was running down the hallway and as I was running, the roof, the ceiling...I was just watching it disappear," said Perkins.

Even after taking a direct hit from the tornado, Morgan County ARH was the hub for those injured. That wing has been closed since then for repairs while other parts of the building have remained open, but today the hall is officially ready for patients.

"I don't want anybody to be sick, but we'd like to see our patients come back and we're ready for them," said Perkins.

Even with all the damage to the building, Appalachian Regional Healthcare CEO Jerry Haynes says shutting the hospital down was never on the table.

"That was really never an option. We are a part of the communities. We're going to be part of the communities and the people in the communities are our people," said Haynes.

Officials said, even with all the damage, no patients or staff were injured when the tornado hit.

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