Several hospitals in downtown Houston were assessing severe damage last week after flooding from Tropical Storm Allison disrupted services.
Memorial Hermann Hospital at the sprawling Texas Medical Center ceased operations for the first time since 1925, after losing power, water and telephone service. Physicians, employees and volunteers carried 570 patients down darkened stairwells to be evacuated. "No one ever stumbled. It was a heroic process," said hospital Chief Executive Officer James Eastham.
Thirty patients were discharged and the remainder were transferred to 29 other facilities, Eastham said. The hospital, which hosts one of the city's Level I trauma centers, hoped to resume services this week.
Memorial Hermann said in a written statement that four critically ill patients died after power was lost, but it said the deaths were determined to be unrelated to the flood.
Meanwhile, Methodist Hospital discharged about half of its 400 patients and did not expect to accept new patients until the end of last week at the earliest. Methodist's emergency department was closed, and visitors were asked to bring their own food and water. Christus St. Joseph Hospital evacuated more than 140 of its roughly 300 patients, closed its emergency room and halted nonemergency surgeries.
Hardest hit was Baylor College of Medicine's huge mouse facility, where some 30,000 animals were trapped, presumably drowned. Many of the mice had been specially bred for specific studies. Researchers seeking treatments for ailments ranging from organ failure to autism face spending five to 10 years trying to reproduce such mice, said Christopher Smith, head veterinarian with the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center.