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THANKS staff, firefighters, vendors for hospital reopening

When fire broke out at UPMC Lock Haven Hospital, the health system was actually investing in upgrading the facility by closing off an old boiler room.

The fire that resulted, reportedly from a chemical reaction, filled segments of the hospital with heavy smoke and odor.

Thus, the hospital had to get clearance from the state Department of Health amid meeting its own stringent standards before it could reopen to staff and patients.

Alas, just about a month after the fire on Sept. 10, the hospital reopened this past Monday, Oct. 12.

“I credit the quick response of our staff and first responders for preventing this incident from escalating,” Ron Reynolds, president, UPMC Lock Haven, said in the immediate aftermath of the blaze. “Hospital staff and EMS safely evacuated and transferred patients ensuring a minimal disruption of care, and firefighters were able to contain the fire to the tunnel structure located outside the hospital.”

Hospital patients were evacuated and some were discharged and others were transferred to UPMC Williamsport and UPMC Muncy.

Praise should be heaped upon emergency first-responders — firefighters — who had to endure thick, acrid smoke to get the fire out.

Dozens responded and they rotated into and out of the building with airpacks.

While the fire was never in the hospital itself, the facility ended up with a fair amount of smoke damage that needed remediation,

Hospital workers and contractors assisted fire crews in digging open the tunnel, extinguishing the fire, and controlling smoke.

The fire was not declared under control for about 24 hours.

Opening the hospital should be celebrated.

“We are safe, we are cleaner than ever and we’re open for business,” Reynolds said in announcing the reopening.

Reynolds did not say it, but as we see it, the reopening comes at a critical time, heading into the colder months of the year and flu season, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All communities are dependent on having safety, quality medical facilities and staff at the ready.

So this is a very positive development, and it’s inspiring to see UPMC Lock Haven overcome the huge challenge of reopening in just one month.

Our hats are off to the hundreds of people from “the most qualified vendors,” in the words of Reynolds, who toiled to “thoroughly assure that we’re back on track.”

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