Employees Say Goodbye, Demolition Begins On Moore Medical Center

Tuesday, June 25th 2013, 5:10 pm

Demolition is underway of the Moore Medical Center. The devastated building quickly became an recognizable image of the May 20 tornado.

But before crews began tearing it down Tuesday, employees were allowed to go inside the fence and say goodbye to the hospital, and remember what happened on May 20.

5/29/2013 Related Story: Tornado-Damaged Moore Medical Center To Be Demolished 

In the immediate aftermath of the Moore tornado, it quickly became clear that the community's only hospital had taken a direct hit. One-hundred-twenty-five employees, 30 patients, and 300 others seeking shelter were all inside.

Carol Brinlee was still shaking that day as she detailed the horror.

"The lights went off again and they said everyone get down and everybody got to the floor and that's when it hit," she told News9.

Just over a month later, employees were allowed to get one last look at the hospital, before demolition crews begin.

6/25/2013 Related Story: Demolition Begins At Moore Medical Center; Center Will Be Rebuilt

"Having been in the building and one of the people on the second floor when the tornado went through, that part's not real. But the rest of this is extremely emotional," said Alyson Heeke, manager of family birth center at Moore Medical Center.

Then a remembrance ceremony looked back on the hospital's history and honored those employees who got everyone to safety during the storm. No one was seriously injured.

Finally, at 9 a.m. those employees and volunteers, some who had been with the hospital before it opened, watched as demolition crews began to tear it down.

"We got to see it put up, now we got to see it torn down, now hopefully we get to see it build back up," said Thelma Kelley, a 73-year-old volunteer for the hospital before it even opened.

Administrators estimate it will take about three weeks to get the debris cleared.

Then in about 45 to 60 days some sort of temporarily urgent care and emergency services will be set up. Likely on the same site.

In the meantime, an advisory committee will be formed to devise what the new Moore Medical Center will look like.

The 300 employees of the Moore Medical Center will continue to work either at the Moore Regional Hospital or the Healthplex Hospital, both in Norman.