By DYLAN GOFORTH
A significant portion of a two-acre section behind Muskogee’s Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center has begun sliding off the hill where the hospital sits.
Greg Sorenson, chief engineer for the hospital, said the slippage began April 1, likely due in part to vibrations from a digging project in the area. Sorenson said the hospital itself is not “presently” at risk, but hopes to have a contractor on site next week to stop the slippage.
Oklahoma Gas & Electric spokesman Mike Ruby said Friday that crews were at the hospital to repair electrical wires knocked down during a storm late Thursday. The hospital has been without power—instead relying on backup generators—for most of the day, hospital spokeswoman Nita McClellan said.
The back side of the hospital appears to be sliding off the hill it’s perched on, she said. The VA hospital sits overlooking Muskogee just west of Highway 69.
McClellan said that the only thing affected at the moment by the slippage is an employee parking area where the concrete appears to be crumbling and sliding down the hill. The area is roped off, she said, and cannot be accessed.
Parking for VA patients is unaffected, she said.
“Because of the rain, especially, we have some sliding behind the hospital,” she said. “We had to close the parking. It looks really bad if you look out the window. Something shifted in the ground, we’re not sure what it is exactly.”
Friday’s power outage has cause most of the immediate issues, she said. Many computers and offices in the building are not hooked up to backup power and have been dark most of the day. Hospital staff has communicated mostly through radios, McClellan said.
“All I know is it’s something we’re going to have to watch really closely,” she said. “We’re not in any imminent danger. We’ve been watching it every day … We are working, we have a plan. Contractors are coming in next week.
“It’s a weakening of the land base underneath our parking lot. It’s old fill material,” she said. “We’re just watching it every day. The rain’s not helping.”
The hospital remains fully staffed and patients there should expect no change in their care, she said. Fans and cooling units were brought in from nearby Eastar Hospital, she said.
McClellan said the hospital could not accept new patients Friday.