St. Helena hospital nears reopening after two months closed following wildfires

19 November 2020

In late September, Adventist Health St. Helena evacuated all of its patients for the second time this fire season.

Just over a month earlier, the LNU Complex Fires had prompted a nighttime evacuation order for the hospital and its surroundings. This time, though, things were different — the fast-moving Glass Fire was unpredictable, officials told hospital staff, and was a real threat to the hospital’s campus. The health care provider would need to do more than evacuate patients and declare the hospital closed.

For the safety of the building and the crews working to protect it, power needed to be turned off. Sensitive equipment — MRI machines, CT scanners, the nurse call system — needed to be shut down.

That was more than seven weeks ago, and the hospital has not yet reopened, Adventist Health St. Helena President & CEO Dr. Steven Herber said Monday. Once those kinds of sophisticated systems are turned off, he explained, the process of turning them back on is not as simple as flipping a switch.

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