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The Mabie Northside Skilled Nursing Facility at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital likely will remain closed until late January to repair damage caused by a flash flood Dec. 4 that forced the emergency evacuation of patients.

In a statement, the hospital reported that the 46 skilled nursing facility residents who were transferred to available rooms in the Mabie Southside Skilled Nursing Facility and Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital “are doing well in their temporary locations.”

All of the northside facility’s furnishings, equipment and resident belongings were removed and are stored in containers onsite while the storm water damage is being worked on, said hospital spokesperson Frankie Gallagher.

“Environmental testing also identified a 1 percent presence of asbestos in previously undisturbed areas of the building” she said, adding that an asbestos abatement plan was expected to be completed by Dec. 20.

Once the remediation and abatement processes are completed, restoration of the building can begin under an emergency authorization from the state Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, said Gallagher.

“It is anticipated that residents may be able to return to the facility as soon as late January or early February 2020,” she said.

 A river of ankle-deep water in the one-story building at 900 Sunset Drive forced the immediate evacuation of all patients in the skilled nursing facility across the street from the hospital. Water had poured into two hallways and adjacent patient rooms.

The hospital reported that 13 ambulances from San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties arrived to help move patients, some of them bedridden, across Sunset Drive to the Mabie Southside Skilled Nursing Facility and the hospital.

The San Benito Fire Department and county Emergency Medical Services unit, along with hospital and nursing home staff, moved quickly to move all of the patients safely, with no injuries. Fire department trucks pumped water out of the building after the brief storm. All patients were moved to new beds within three hours after the rain shower.

Beds were available at the newer skilled nursing facility for 31 patients, Gallagher added, and available hospital beds are being used for another 15 patients in the adjacent hospital’s medical/surgical units.

Heavy rains in the first week of December already have made this month one of the wettest Decembers on record, and rain forecast for the Christmas holiday was expected to add to the total.

A barrier of sandbags was piled in front of the south entrance to the nursing facility to guard against any further flooding while remediation efforts continued.

DKI Commercial Solutions, a company experienced in dealing with damage restoration for hospitals and medical facilities, is the project manager for this repair and restoration process. 

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