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St. Luke's recovering after flood; outpatient services reopen today

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Coaldale firefighter Terry Ahner Jr. rolls up a water hose after assisting on scene yesterday.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Coaldale firefighter Terry Ahner Jr. rolls up a water hose after assisting on scene yesterday.
Published November 03. 2011 05:01PM

Emergency room services were diverted to other hospitals after a six-inch water main broke and flooded the emergency department and all other outpatient services on the lower level of St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale early Wednesday morning.

Outpatient services include respiratory, orthopedics, cardiology, oncology and the laboratory (limited to blood draws). The lab will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, wellness and radiology at the hospital were closed today.

Physical therapy appointments have been rescheduled at alternative locations.

Andrea Visnosky-Hahn, director of marketing/public relations, is asking patients to enter the hospital through the emergency department entrance on the ground floor.

Members of the community and employees of the hospital are encouraged to call the hot line for an updated recording at (570) 645-1500. Hospital officials have requested that visitors refrain from coming to the hospital until repairs are complete.

Family members can call (570) 645-8205 with any patient concerns.

"Our staff has been wonderful in dealing with this complication," said Visnosky-Hahn, adding that many employees are going out of their way to help departments affected.

She also expressed the hospital's appreciation to the Coaldale police, fire department, fire police and other local community members that helped or are offering assistance.As water rushed into the lower floor yesterday, hospital employees and workers with the Lansford/Coaldale Water Authority could be seen scrambling to shut off water inlets to the hospital in attempts to slow or stop the damaging flow of water. Flooded areas consisted of the main lobby, emergency room, offices, radiology, lab and other areas.

The force of the escaping water on the second tier of the hospital, which is located on sloping ground level, could be seen pushing up a concrete sidewalk slab located in the upper parking lot directly behind the hospital.

An official on scene said that water levels inside reached 10 inches in some departments. Excavating contractors and water authority workers spent most of the day Wednesday digging up pavement and repairing the water main, while firefighters and other emergency crews pumped thousands of gallons of water out of the lower level to the hospital.

"The water completely covered the ground floor of the hospital," said Steve Polischak, Coaldale assistant fire chief.

Lonnie Ahner, Coaldale firefighter, said the parking lot looked like a lake as he described the amount of water rushing out of the hospital's lobby doors.

Firefighters also said that the elevator is out of order as there was more than eight feet of water in the elevator shaft. The entire X-ray, laboratory and non-emergency services where diverted to St. Luke's Urgent Care in Jim Thorpe, where its hours were extended to handle patient volume.

The hospital continued to divert patients overnight. Visnosky-Hahn said all hospital staff members are well trained and prepared for any complications that can happen.

"Our hospital staff routinely holds disaster and evacuation drills," she added.

She also said that none of the 43 resident patients were inconvenienced or had to be evacuated, pointing out that the hospital always has an abundant supply of water. Most hospital-based outpatient services are expected to reopen today.

Emergency response command units with St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network were also staged at the hospital.

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