Norwood Hospital remains temporarily closed with no reopening date in sight, 12 weeks after an intense rainstorm flooded the building and caused extensive damage.
“We are working day and night to assess the damage and formulate a plan and timeline for next steps,” hospital spokesman Nicholas Puleo said in an e-mail. “We remain committed to the health care needs of Norwood and surrounding communities, and we continue to work closely with the town of Norwood and state officials to determine a timeline for reopening.”
The 215-bed community hospital, which is owned by Steward Health Care, celebrated its centennial last year and is a fixture in the town of 30,000.
Patients were evacuated during the June 28 storm, which Puleo said poured water into the hospital “from all six sides” through the walls, roof, and basement. Video shows waves of dirty water bursting through doors and pushing furniture and supplies down hallways.
Puleo said it took weeks to remove debris and dry out the building. Since then, experts have been assessing all aspects of the facility, he said. The team includes architects, engineers, mechanics, industrial hygienists, boiler specialists, master electricians, fire protection consultants, and medical gas professionals, he said.
“We need to check every piece of equipment, every outlet, every inch of drywall for damage in order to be 100 percent sure that there is no risk to our patients now or in the future,” he said.
Puleo said he could not estimate the cost of cleanup and work that will be needed to reopen the facility. He said the hospital is insured for flood damage.
Since June 29, Norwood Hospital’s webpage has warned residents that the emergency department is temporarily closed. “Please do not come to Norwood Hospital at this time if you are having a medical issue,” the webpage says in bold red letters.
Norwood Fire Chief George Morrice said ambulances must now transport patients to hospitals out of town – primarily to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton.
“It means a much longer turnaround time for our ambulances to be available,” Morrice said. "There have been times when both our ambulances were transporting out of town and we have had to rely on mutual aid from our neighboring communities.
“Obviously, it’s not the ideal situation,” he said. “We are working with Norwood Hospital and are hopeful that down the road they will be able to reopen. In the meantime, we continue to reassess our services to keep the people of Norwood protected.”
Norwood Hospital employed about 1,400 people at the start of the year, according to Puleo.
A spokesman for the union representing some hospital staff said in July that more than 800 employees were furloughed after the flooding.
Puleo said that hospitals and surgery centers across the Steward Health Care network — including Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Morton Hospital in Taunton, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, and Southern New England Surgery Center in Attleboro — have found places for many Norwood Hospital staff, although he did not have a specific number.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at email@example.com.