Hospitals and clinics are refuges: places to go when there’s disaster or unsafe conditions elsewhere. But Tuesday night’s three tornadoes in Sioux Falls flipped the script, along with the interiors and walls at Avera Behavioral Health Hospital and Avera Heart Hospital.
“The Behavioral Health Hospital probably will not be open for another three to six months, so we’re going to have to figure out how to handle our behavioral health patients,” Avera McKennan Hospital President and CEO Dave Flicek said. “Some will stay on campus at Avera McKennan, but we’re working with state officials right now to help us with the logistics.”
The damage here speaks for itself. So does the resolve of the people who didn’t stray from their callings.
“We actually never stopped treating emergencies last night, and in the middle of the tornado we had a patient who had a severe cardiac event and had his life saved right in the middle of the tornado,” Avera Heart Hospital CEO Mick Gibbs said.
“I gotta tell you our staff was fabulous, courageous, they did what they’re supposed to do,” Flicek said. “They stayed calm, and they did a great job for our patients.”
“Our staff had their vehicles destroyed, our physicians had their vehicles destroyed while they were saving lives last night, and if there’s no better testimony to selflessness, I don’t know if there is,” Gibbs said.
The physical damage to buildings is considerable. But you can’t break what binds people together to rise above the storm.
“I have to tell you the first responders, the police, they were just awesome,” Flicek said. “They were there right away helping in the building, so I want to thank the city for that, they were just awesome helping us.”
“The work of responding to an emergency like this takes a family, more than team,” Gibbs said. “It takes a family. And I couldn’t be more proud.”