GATESVILLE, TX — Coryell Memorial Hospital marked a milestone a year and a half after an explosion, triggered by a gas leak, ripped a huge gash in the hospital and the community.
The hospital held an open house Thursday at the site of the explosion, not only to show the community their new addition but to help move the healing process along.
The hospital put its best foot forward as it and the community took one giant step toward healing.
"It's certainly catastrophic what occurred," said Coryell Memorial CEO David Byrom as he described the June 2018 explosion that rocked Gatesville from one end of town to the other.
The blast ripped apart the a wing of Coryell Hospital, killing one construction worker and leaving a dozen more hurt.
Late Thursday, Gatesville closed that painful chapter as it opened the wing at the center of the disaster.
"I mean, honestly, I feel a little overwhelmed with all the emotions, to finally be in this spot and to be able to share it with everyone just means a lot," explained Carly Latham, Director of Marking for Coryell Memorial.
The 114,000 square foot expansion that was opened only constitutes about half the hospital's $44 million expansion.
The two-story addition will give the hospital the option of turning the second floor into hospital rooms as the area grows, creating pressure to expand.
But Thursday's open house marks a time of healing that people here learned from.
"After the hospital explosion, that was my wake-up call. Well, we better start doing something," said Justin North, a Gatesville father of two, earlier this year.
The explosion prompted a campaign to help folks prepare for all disasters however unexpected, as Coryell Emergency Manager Bob Harrell told us in January.
"We really need to start thinking about what is our next big problem," he said at the time.
While the celebration and open house looked ahead to better times for this 25 bed critical access hospital, it also commemorated the healing here.
"The community hurt with us. It was hard for all of us to have gone through that and to know the things that happened, but we also got back up together and banded together," said Latham.
County leaders hope both the hospital and those who live here can better handle the unexpected as they face future unknowns together.