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Iowa hospital uses elementary school to open clinic after tornado damage

By Ophelie Jacobson

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    GREENFIELD, Iowa (KCCI) — It’s been four weeks since a deadly tornado tore through Greenfield, damaging parts of the Adair Country Memorial Hospital.

The facility didn’t take a direct hit, but signs of destruction are visible all around. Catherine Hillestad, CEO of the Adair County Health System, said the roof was severely impacted. Inside the hospital, Hillestad says the lab and operating room took the brunt of the damage.

But she said there is a silver lining.

“I feel so grateful that we still have a standing building,” Hillestad said. “Obviously, I’m heartbroken for the people who don’t have anything left.”

The hospital is closed and has been since the storm. But just days after the tornado hit, Hillestad said they found a new spot to continue providing care.

“We’re using classrooms as our clinic rooms,” she said.

Hillestad said they moved their operations to Nodaway Valley Elementary School. A mobile medical unit and an ambulance now sit in the school parking lot, right by a playground.

“It’s going as well as it can. It’s a day-by-day process,” she said. “Our team is a group of the strongest individuals I’ve ever met.”

A walk-in clinic and rural health clinic are set up in the school. People still have to be transported to neighboring facilities for emergency care though.

Hillestad said she hopes the hospital will be back open within 90 days of the storm.

“We hope to be out of the school by the time school starts, obviously, so the kids can be back in session,” she said.

The CEO said she is confident they will make that happen. The Adair County Health Foundation started a GoFundMe to help with the recovery process and support employees.

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