WATFORD CITY, N.D. | A hospital in the western part of North Dakota is treating victims of a tornado that recently ripped through the area days after the $76 million facility opened.
McKenzie County Healthcare Systems opened the Watford City hospital July 1. The hospital is equipped with 24 inpatient rooms and nine rooms in the emergency department, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
Only five staff members were working at the hospital when more than two dozen people were brought in less than an hour after a tornado touched down in an RV park in the oil patch city on Tuesday. It would have been "near impossible" to treat the 26 people seeking help for their injuries without the new hospital, said Mike Curtis, the hospital's chief administrative officer.
"We've never had (a situation) this bad or with this number of people within such a short period of time," he said.
Four of the patients brought Tuesday were in critical condition and transferred to the closest facility after they were stabilized, Curtis said. The remaining 22 were treated and released. A 1-week-old baby was the sole casualty from the natural disaster.
About 20 doctors, nurses, and support staff rotated throughout the night to help treat patients even as staff was still learning where everything was in the new building.
McKenzie County Board of Commissioners Chairman Douglas Nordby commended the hospital for its quick response.
"I drove around with our emergency manager for the county and looked at all the response (activity) going on," he said. "That was awesome that every entity in our community, and the communities around us, showed up to help."