Mountain View rebuilds, reopens hospital after 2008 tornado - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Mountain View rebuilds, reopens hospital after 2008 tornado

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, AR (KAIT) – A tornado cut a destructive path five years ago across many communities in Arkansas, including Mountain View.

An EF4 tornado hit the hospital there directly on February 5, 2008, and damaged more than half the facility.

"The front doors just blew open, and they shattered," recalled Diana Shelden, who serves as the director of nursing. "Dirt and debris and glass came up the hall, and obviously we knew that we had taken a direct hit."

The Stone County Medical Center (SCMC) now stands entirely rebuilt and redesigned – boasting better amenities, a stronger structure and a few nods to its stormy past.

Anyone that now visits the hospital for the first time may find it hard to imagine that a tornado struck it five years ago Tuesday.

"It totally changed the landscape of Mountain View," Renie Taylor said.

Taylor has worked as the SCMC administrator since November 2008.

"Basically," she said, "we had one hallway with six rooms that we provided 12 beds."

The hospital opened that wing immediately after the storm hit to serve as the emergency department. Several modular medical facilities were brought in later to provide additional patient care.

Staff members kept treating patients from their temporary facilities until the hospital was rebuilt fully in 2011.

The hospital funded all the upgrades using insurance proceeds, local fundraising and a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

"It's such a nice building," Shelden said, "and it's better than it was before."

The hospital was designed to improve patient safety and privacy. That includes 25 private in-patient rooms and four nursing work stations on a newly constructed second floor.

Shelden says the new patient rooms all now have the same layout.

"It really helps with efficiency and with patient care," she said.

Taylor says the hospital also developed its plans with an eye toward the future.

"If Mountain View grows and our business grows," she said, "we have the capability with this structure that's in place to put another floor on."

The only structure remaining from the former facility is the surgery center, which also received a few upgrades.

In addition to reflecting upon five years since the storm, the hospital also celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. It commemorated the occasion by decorating a wall with pictures and memorabilia near the new emergency department.

The items display the hospital's history that includes the devastation from the tornado – memories that staff members say they have now moved past.

"It was a good journey," Taylor said. "It was a very good journey."

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