MOORE — Health officials hope to have a temporary emergency services department up and running by December on the site of the ruined Moore Medical Center.
Brick and mortar construction of a new medical center will take about 2½ years, but portable buildings serving patient emergency needs can be built, stocked and made operational within weeks, said David Whitaker, president and chief operating officer of the Norman Regional Health System.
Whitaker and other medical professionals met Wednesday at the construction site where the Moore Medical Center was once a thriving hospital. The hospital was devastated in the May 20 tornado, although 400 people who rode out the storm in the building suffered no serious injuries.
Brian Johnson, president and founder of Serenus Johnson Portables, said his company specializes in erecting portable buildings to provide emergency services until permanent structures are built. The company performed services in Joplin, Mo., and New Orleans after natural disasters there, he said.
“We think we are a perfect fit for Moore,” he said. “Our first priority is the effect something like this has had on the people. We wait three or four weeks before we come in and suggest what we can do to help.”
Johnson said his company will build five portable buildings with interconnected walkways on the Moore Medical Center site that can be used until the permanent building is ready.
The buildings will be up in about two weeks, he said, although getting them operational may take until December.
Once the work is completed, emergency services on which Moore residents depend will be available immediately, Medical Director Robin Mantooth said.
“It will provide everything an emergency department is expected to provide. We look forward to it,” she said.
“We've put a lot of time and effort into the planning of this. We want Moore to see our commitment,” Whitaker said.
Moore Medical Center averaged about 35,000 emergency room visits a year, he said.
“The Moore people are very resilient,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said. “Just the enormity of this tornado has been hard to deal with, but people are rebuilding. And, in most cases, they are rebuilding bigger and better.”