Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Local doctor helps re-open Greensburg hospital

June 7, 2007

By the cuts he stitched and the exams he performed, Eudora physician Peter Bock could have been at home in his basement clinic.

The tasks were no different than what he performs from day to day, he said.

Peter Bock spent three days in Greensburg before returning to his
home in Eudora. He helped set up a temporary hospital in the town.

Peter Bock spent three days in Greensburg before returning to his home in Eudora. He helped set up a temporary hospital in the town.

But he wasn't at home.

At the time, his practice space didn't have running water and just received electricity.

It was also the only hospital in Greensburg.

"I was the first down there to help keep open the doors of the hospital," Bock said.

The Olathe-based Heart to Heart International called Bock to spend several days in Greensburg to help set up a temporary field hospital and relieve the local staff.

He also served with Heart to Heart in 2005 as a volunteer handyman and doctor in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The Greensburg field hospital also had a past from that earlier disaster, having been set up in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to help the injured after the hurricane.

A tornado ripped through the town May 4 and demolished the former hospital in Greensburg.

"It was definitely fortunate there were so few injuries or deaths," Bock said. "It could have been much worse."

While in Greensburg, Bock treated mainly relief workers.

He also helped set the hospital up.

"They think they are going to be in the hospital for two years or more," Bock said.

Eventually the facility will be able to house a clinic and an emergency care unit, he said.

Despite the limited range of services the hospital served a purpose to the community, Bock said.

It was especially important because the hospital was one of the largest employers in the county.

"It gave all those employees a place to work and gave them a sense of place."

Bock said he was impressed by how many people the hospital was able to bring back to the community.

The former nutrition workers, for instance, now serve in the hospital's daycare. The kids needed someplace to go, Bock said.

"I thought it was very clever and positive the way they utilized one department's people to help out with the daycare," Bock said.

Bock worked with hospital administrator Mary Sweet. She was very aggressive about getting things done and set up for the hospital, he said.

When not on duty or driving to the hospital, Bock had the opportunity to interact with the locals.

Driving with them he saw first-hand the destruction caused by the tornado, he said.

He talked to people who lived there their whole lives and could tell stories about each landmark.

Without the landmarks, the locals were lost, Bock said.

There were also stories of people who emerged from the storm, Bock said.

"People would come out of their basements and look like they were coming out of a trash heap," Bock said.

Bock also noted the will to rebuild in the Greensburg community.

"I'm glad I went," Bock said.

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