It’s deceiving. What appears on the outside to be a row of mobile homes is in reality a fully functional hospital. The Williamsburg Regional Hospital (WRH) located in Kingstree opened its doors to the temporary facility on Friday evening, December 16. Pristine white halls lead to separate rooms for vascular, respiratory therapy, X-ray, an emergency room and much more. State-of-the-art equipment includes a 32-slice CT scanner, mobile digital X-ray and an isolation room. The equipment upgrades were funded by FEMA and state funds with an option to purchase the lease once a new hospital is built.
WRH CEO Sharon Poston is happy to see the end of a long process. “It’s been a long five-and-a-half months,” said Poston walking down the vast hallway. “We are thankful for all the help we’ve received from many, many people. Some of the folks, from those in DHEC places, SCEMD Director Kim Stenson and the Plexos Group were able to give us advice, helped us with guidelines, and what we needed to do. If we didn’t have that we’d probably still be trying to figure out what to do. Of course Dr. Troy Gamble, all the doctors and staff worked relentlessly, and the community was also instrumental in our success.”
The temporary hospital sits beside and to the rear of the closed facility, which suffered major damage after the historic flood in October 2015. Business Interruption Insurance funds allowed the hospital to stay open. “We have literally been living off that, and being frugal as possible,” said Poston.
Dr. Troy Gamble has been one of the most prominent forces behind the process. To ensure everything went as planned on the day of the inspection Gamble wore his late father’s ring. “Today I brought my father’s 1933 high school ring because its always been my good luck charm,” said Gamble who is a fourth generation product of Williamsburg County. “He wore it in World War II and never took it off. He said it kept him alive. I brought it today to bring us good luck. I feel like my dad’s spirit worked through it and for me to help do this. This is a wonderful day for Williamsburg County and for all the people we serve.”
Senator Ronnie Sabb toured the facility the evening after DHEC, and other state agencies completed their inspections and gave the approval. “Amazed, absolutely amazed,” he said. “When you look at the outside of this building and then you come in, I can’t believe what is really housed here. What I’ve witnessed is state-of-the-art instruments that I believe will equate into a quality of care. And I can’t wait for the citizens to come and see what our temporary hospital looks like.”
Sabb added this is only the beginning. “This is not the end of our journey. This is a temporary hospital but it’s in the position to offer quality care, which is what the citizens of this area deserve. We want them to know we will continue to work hard in order that we might build a permanent hospital that reflects the kind of excellence that this one reflects.”
At time of press a grand opening was taking place. An operating room will be in place sometime in January. The temporary hospital will remain in place until a permanent one is built, which is expected to take two years.
Discussions continue with FEMA over the location of the future facility. A detailed report of the closed facility will soon be in the hands of FEMA for review.