Doctors Set Up Tents to See Patients After Pipes Burst

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A little more than a week ago, old man winter was causing big problems for some homeowners and businesses. Single digit temperatures were causing a lot of water pipes to freeze and burst. But one group, while still not 100 percent, is back in business and taking care of their patients.

Construction crews are repairing what freezing weather destroyed. A sprinkler supply line froze and burst last Tuesday sending a flood of water through the Balmoral Drive building that houses Dermatology Associates and Allergy Asthma and Clinical Immunology.

But now, “We`re in about one third of the building so we`re seeing about one third of the folks we normally see,” said Dr. John Sowell. The doctors brought in tents and huge heaters to serve as a waiting room for their patients.

When you first drive up, it almost looks like a MASH unit operating outside the building. “We need some helicopter background noise don`t we?” said Sowell with a laugh. “Yeah, what we lost completely were the reception areas so we`ve got the outside reception with heaters. It`s a little bit cool when the wind blows but we`re able to see patients in the peripheral part of the building so it`s working out okay.”

“We feel like we’re having a revival in the back of the building,” says Allergist and Immunologist Dr. Rebecca Raby. It’s a minor inconvenience for now, but they brainstormed and are making sure their patients can get in to get their shots. Standing in what used to be the lobby of her practice, she says, “We hope that these rooms will be completed in three weeks but we`ll be able to function just as normal just like we are right now. We’re going to keep pushing forward.”

The pipe break also gives both practices a chance to do a little remodeling in the building they share. Dr. Heather James remarks, “Not exactly how we meant to give the front a facelift but I guess that’s a good positive way to look at it.”

The only standing water you’ll see in the building right now is in the 155 gallon fish tank. “Yes and the fish man was here immediately to save his fish,” Dr. James adds.

One thing that won’t be a permanent part of the repairs is the disco lights in the tents. Dr. Sowell says, “I guess they’re normally used for parties and I did ask about a deejay. They don`t provide deejays, just the lights.”

The biggest problem right now is parking. With dumpsters and construction crews on site, employees of both practices are parking down the street and walking to make sure there’s enough parking for patients.



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