LOUISVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – Just weeks after the Centura-Avista Adventist Hospital came within feet of possibly catching fire during the Marshall Fire, staff are hard at work to prepare the facility to reopen to patients. The hospital, which is surrounded by devastated neighborhoods, somehow survived the historic blaze without any structural damage.
Dozens of patients had to be evacuated to sister hospitals the night the Marshall Fire erupted. Hospital CEO Isaac Sendros said the evacuation was something the staff had prepared for, yet never expected to execute.
“A full evacuation? No, that is not something you look forward to doing,” Sendros said. “As you can imagine it was a stressful moment. But, we have been running drills for this.”
Heroic staff members inside the hospital worked to get patients loaded into ambulances and rushed to neighboring hospitals. All the while the flames were creeping closer and closer to the hospital, at one point becoming a threat of a possible explosion.
“The oxygen tanks were a big concern. We actually had to evacuate patients that were on the second floor of the building to the first floor on the opposite side just in case the fire caused the oxygen tanks to explode,” Sendros told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
Sendros recalled watching a fire tornado spout more than 50 feet into the sky alongside the hospital’s property, saying he feared the debris and embers would land on the hospital. As he drove away from the building he feared there wouldn’t be a hospital to return to.
“When we left everything around us was on fire and I wasn’t sure. When we came back the next day and you saw the devastation as you were driving up, yet you could see Avista standing, I wasn’t expecting that,” Sendros said.
While there was not any structural damage to the facility there were many portions of the building with smoke damage. As a result the hospital hired a deep cleaning service to make sure the building would be safe for patients once again.
“Every surface in this hospital is being cleaned seven times over,” Sendros said. “Our teams have come back reviewing every piece of supply.”
Every single bed was deep cleaned as well as every surface. All medical supplies inside were deep cleaned or completely replaced.
A team of air quality experts also have spent time testing every single vent in the property to make sure air circulation is clear.
Sendros said the hospital always maintained a clean system, but noted the facility was likely the safest and cleanest it has ever been now that the cleaning crews have passed through.
Centura plans to reopen Avista on Tuesday morning, Jan. 18.