The Avera Heart Hospital is planning a small celebration once crews are done fixing its building from tornado damages. On Tuesday, two weeks after the storms, the Heart Hospital president and CEO is updating us where its at in its recovery progress.
The tornado did a number on the outside of the building. Plywood is up everywhere to cover 338 broken windows. The hospital is bouncing back.
“We’re treating the plywood like blank canvases,” Mick Gibbs, president and CEO, said.
It’s not planting season, but Avera Heart Hospital is prepping its new garden. Area elementary school students drew and colored flower murals, and workers will put them up to cover ugly reminders of the storms. The sheets of paper will cover the plywood temporarily while workers fix damages.
“What defines this community is how well it responds in moments of tragedy, and we are the recipient and beneficiary of community support,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs says the hospital is at full capacity, and it’s business as usual. He says everyone is lucky.
“We could’ve been easily planning for response to injuries, or worse,” Gibbs said.
All of the damage is only cosmetic, not structural. Gibbs says the building is strong, and almost as strong as all of the employees who kept working through the tornado.
“All of a sudden we feel the silence come over the room and all of our ears popped,” Catlin Currie, registered invasive cardiovascular specialist, said.
Currie and her team were in the cath lab, trying to save a patient who’d had a heart attack.
“I was just imagining my house would be gone, my family would be gone,” Currie said.
It’s a lot to think about, but Currie said her training kicked in.
“We get trained so well, it just comes, muscle memory. We were able to perform what we need to do to get the patient done and safe,” Currie said.
No matter which season it is, tornado or otherwise, Gibbs says this outcome shows his staff is prepared for anything.
“The techs, the nurses, and the doctors all had ice in their veins and they maintained their composure despite obvious challenges in the building,” Gibbs said.
For the first time, that patient, is sharing his story. On Tuesday night’s Eye on KELOLAND, Craig Petersen is talking with Brady Mallory. In an exclusive with KELOLAND News, he’s talking about his heart attack, getting to Avera right before the storm hit, and why his heart wasn’t the only one on the line that night. We’re also talking to his doctor about what was going through his mind during the procedure.