Hospital no longer a shelter



March 26, 2014 - 12:00 AM

With the tornado season fast approaching, the new hospital can no longer serve as a public storm shelter, trustees agreed at their meeting Tuesday night.
“We simply don’t have room,” said Ron Baker, chief executive officer of Allen County Regional Hospital.
The hospital has a specially reinforced safe room in the case of threatening weather, which accommodates 75.
“If a storm happens during the middle of a busy day, our patients and staff alone will fill the shelter,” Baker said.
The public, usually as many as 125-150, frequently sought shelter in the basement of the old hospital, said Patty McGuffin, head of nursing. The new hospital lacks a basement.
Storm shelters in Iola are in City Hall, Lincoln and McKinley elementary schools, the Bowlus Fine Arts Center and the Iola post office.

THE LACK of dependable cell phone service in the hospital was brought up by Dr. Brian Wolfe.
“If I’m with a patient in the hospital and try to call my office, I can’t get a dial tone,” he said.
The dense qualities of the strong, steel structure can cause such problems, Baker admitted.
“It’s real inconsistent. Sometimes we get good service, sometimes not,” Baker said.
“Unless you are near an exterior wall, service is sketchy,” said Larry Peterson, chief financial officer for the hospital.
To facilitate better connection, “boosters” can be installed, as was the case for improving service in the basement of the old hospital.
The cost for a booster is “fairly significant,” Baker said, in the neighborhood of $20,000-$30,0000.
A booster would be necessary for every provider of phone service. AT&T and Verizon are the most commonly used providers in the area.

IN OTHER news, the hospital is developing a newsletter to keep county patrons up-to-date on treatments and staff.
And hospital administrators are actively seeking tenants to use the former administrative offices at the old hospital.

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