WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Help is on the way for the people of Williamsburg County after record rainfall and flooding in October prompted administrators to close one of the only emergency rooms in the area.
"We serve a lot of people in this community. They need us and we want to be here for them," said Kelly Lawson with Williamsburg Regional Hospital.
In just a few weeks, officials hope a temporary emergency room they're setting up following the original being damaged by water will be up and running on the Williamsburg Regional Hospital campus.
Eight total beds will be available. While the set up doesn't look like much right now, when it's operational, it will be a fully functioning emergency room.
Officials said being able to offer this kind of care is something the community is desperate for after the flooding in October.
"This is a true disaster in every sense of the term," Lawson said. "The very first day we closed, we had someone show up that couldn't breathe and there was nothing we could do."
The hospital was damaged beyond repair and officials said every part of the county has felt the loss of Williamsburg Regional Hospital since then.
"Every ambulance that's called has to go an hour out of the county to take patients," Lawson said. "It's really taxing the community."
It's doing the same to employees. WMBF News looked into claims that many were let go without notice as the hospital closed its doors. They were put on "as needed" status, while officials have been working to get the temporary emergency room up and running.
"I don't think people appreciated a hospital in the middle of the community until they didn't have the hospital," Lawson said. "Now you hear all throughout town, people are saying, 'When's the emergency room going to be open again? We can't wait,'" Lawson said.
Lawson said they are waiting to hear back about funding from FEMA before they will know how soon they can get the entire hospital back on its feet.