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Haywood hospital continues with fire recovery

 The Emergency Department at MedWest Haywood is fully online, having treated 180 patients during the Fourth of July weekend. The department, along with outpatient services and the hospital’s business offices, re-opened June 30, 11 days after a fire in the power room shut down the whole building, causing 62 patients to be evacuated to hospitals in neighboring counties. 

Though the fire was a small one, it knocked out the hospital’s electrical system. The emergency generators kicked in, but the hospital was still having problems with keeping the building cool. CEO and president Janie Sinacore-Jaberg decided that it would be in the patients’ best interest to close and evacuate. 

To get the OK from the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation for a partial re-opening, the hospital had to have redundant power sources and undergo extensive testing to prove that they’re working as they should. They got that done by June 30, slightly ahead of the original early July goal.

“We are moving along at a rapid but methodical pace,” Sinacore-Jaberg said. “As I have said, we aren’t going to rush this.”

But the hospital still doesn’t have its inpatient wing open and likely won’t until mid-to-late July. That’s because both the primary and backup power sources are generator-based right now, and to accept inpatients the hospital has to get back on Duke Energy power. A new transfer switch must be installed, and the N.C. DHSR has to go through its battery of tests. 

“Safe patient care is always our highest priority, so we are doing everything correctly, in a very organized manner,” Sinacore-Jaberg said, “and in concert with our internal teams as well as external agencies.”

As it works toward a full re-open, the hospital is also in the midst of an ownership transfer. Duke LifePoint has offered to buy the public hospital for $26 million, but the sale isn’t final. The original schedule had called for it to close in late March, but that timeline got moved back to late July or early August. It’s now expected to come a bit later, though reasons for the delay are unrelated to the fire, Sinacore-Jaberg said. 

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