Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Getting Well Planned Re-Opening of Hospital Cheers People Who Saved It

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Getting Well Planned Re-Opening of Hospital Cheers People Who Saved It

Article excerpt

These days, when Esther Haywood of Bellerive Acres drives past Normandy Community Hospital, she smiles.

More than three years ago, she and other residents plus church groups, local politicians and medical professionals rallied when the Deaconess Medi cal Center-North closed. A group of local doctors bought the building. The residents searched for and found investors. They signed petitions, demonstrated and pressured the politicians to get the right to reopen the hospital.

Now, Haywood and the others expect Normandy Community Hospital to open next month. Hospital Administrator Glen Marshall is pushing to open by the end of the year. About 80 construction workers are wrapping up $8 million in renovations on the building at 7840 Natural Bridge Road. The long-dormant halls are starting to shine with fresh tile, paint and bright signs pointing to different wings. "We're in the home stretch now," said Marshall. "I'm ready to be open and have our first patient." About 3,000 people, many from the Normandy area, have applied for about 350 jobs at the 80-bed hospital. It will feature an emergency room and in-patient care and will provide training for family-care osteopathic physicians. Osteopathic care emphasizes the interrelationship between the body's musculo-skeletal system and other body systems. Critics still say the hospital may fail - two hospitals previously shut down at that site for lack of business. But many residents are excited and confident about its return. They hope the hospital will boost the local economy, adding jobs and related businesses. "It gives me a sense of pride to know we have worked and earned to save something that we need," said Haywood, 56, a resident of the Normandy area for more than 30 years. "This community is blessed." Community Takes Action In 1993, Deaconess closed its 198-bed facility after 45 years of service, citing financial problems and lack of community support. Only 40 percent of the hospital's beds were full at a time, officials said. The community immediately organized and decided to buy the hospital. Twenty-seven local doctors put together a $300,000 down payment to buy the $1 million building. …

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