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Sumter hospital workers rally to back Oklahoma facility

Phoebe Sumter Emergency Department Nurse Manager Krista Barfield signs a banner that will be sent to Oklahoma’s Moore Medical Center employees who were affected by the devastating tornado that killed more than 20 people and did considerable damage to the hospital.

Phoebe Sumter Emergency Department Nurse Manager Krista Barfield signs a banner that will be sent to Oklahoma’s Moore Medical Center employees who were affected by the devastating tornado that killed more than 20 people and did considerable damage to the hospital.

AMERICUS, Ga. -- Upon hearing of the devastating storm that unleashed 200-mile-per-hour winds on Oklahoma and the Midwest and the damage it caused, the people in Americus couldn't help but think back to their own ordeal in March 2007.

Watching news reports showing the structural damage to Moore Medical Center hit home with the staff at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center.

"Looking at the pictures and coverage, it looked very similar to how our area looked but probably much worse," said Marcus Johnson, marketing and public relations official at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center. "The hospital damage looked eerily similar to how our hospital looked, right down to the cars being mashed in the parking lot."

Then known as Sumter Regional, the community hospital in Americus suffered millions of dollars in damage and ultimately had to be demolished. Two people were killed during the tornado in Sumter County, and hundreds of homes were destroyed.

The Americus hospital then became Phoebe Sumter Medical Center following a partnership with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany. The new medical facility was opened in Sumter County in December 2011.

"We received so much support from people all across the state, the nation and even the world, especially from the hospital and medical community," said Johnson. "As a result, anytime another storm hits and a hospital is damaged, we want to help them just like so many people helped us in 2007."

Upon hearing about the devastation to Oklahoma and Moore Medical Center in particular, Sumter hospital employees immediately donated funds that will be sent to the employees of the Oklahoma hospital.

In addition, Phoebe Sumter employees are signing a banner that will be sent with the funds to the Moore employees next week, along with a number of other items.

"We were Moore Medical in 2007, just like we were the hospital damaged in Joplin, Mo., a few years ago," said Johnson. "So many people stepped up to the plate to show us support and encouragement, and we want to do the same for our fellow hospital workers in Moore, Okla., and for all the people affected by the storms there."

Johnson said the banner will hang in the hospital's cafeteria the next few days and can be signed by anyone in the community. Anyone wishing to donate can make checks payable to Norman Regional Health Foundation and turn them in at the Human Resources department of the hospital, or contribute to the Red Cross.

"I am sure they will appreciate the funds and other items, but I think the banner will really lift their spirits just like the one we got lifted ours," said Johnson of the banner that was sent to the Americus facility from a hospital from the Gulf Coast that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. "Just the fact that someone you don't even know is pulling for you and supporting you did wonders for our employees, and we hope that our gesture will do the same for them."

Phoebe Sumter Emergency Department Nurse Manager Krista Barfield, RN, signs a banner that will be sent to Oklahoma's Moore Medical Center employees that were affected by the devastating tornado that killed more than 20 people and did considerable damage to the hospital.