Houston hospital closing after hurricane damage

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 - East Houston Regional Medical Center

East Houston Regional Medical Center will permanently close after the facility was flooded with six feet of water in flooding when Hurricane Harvey struck the area in August.

The announcement came from HCA’s Gulf Coast Division, which said while the hospital has endured through three floods since 2000, this time was different.

“Our team looked at every potential option for continuing to treat patients at the facility. In the interest of safety, we have determined there was no way to continue operations at this current site,” the division said. “It’s just not the safest way forward for our patients or our employees.”

The 131-bed hospital had been open for more than 40 years and was the only Level IV emergency center in the area, along with being a certified primary stroke and chest pain center. Flood gates had been installed after damage from a tropical storm in 2001.

The hospital ceased operations on Aug. 25 and evacuated all 80 patients, as dozens of other Houston-area hospitals did ahead of Harvey making landfall. It never reopened.

"Even with floodgates we took on 6 feet of water," Debra Burbridge, spokesperson for HCA, told the Houston Chronicle.

HCA took a financial hit of $140 million due to hurricanes affecting operations at facilities in Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In its message announcing the closure, it encouraged patients to seek care at its Bayshore Medical Center in Pasadena, Texas and Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster, Texas.

The Chronicle reported the hospital’s 479 employees would be laid off, but HCA said “well over 400” have been given new assignments at other facilities within the company.