American HealthTech Awards West Rest Haven Nursing Home For Acts Of Bravery In Aftermath Of Fertilizer Plant Explosion

CareHeroes awards program recognize customers who make a real difference as they serve others

Aug 27, 2013, 10:00 ET from American HealthTech

JACKSON, Miss., Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- American HealthTech announces that it has awarded West Rest Haven (WRH) Nursing Home with its CareHeroes award to recognize the staff and community at large who passionately – and without regard for their own personal safety – served those in their care in the aftermath of the WRH fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013. Not only did the explosion annihilate the plant, but it also completely destroyed the neighboring WRH nursing home, blowing doors off their hinges, shattering windows and filling the facility with broken glass and water. The explosion left a foot of debris on WRH's floors and even buried residents in their beds. They couldn't be pushed in a wheelchair so WRH staff literally picked up the wheelchairs with residents in them and carried them to safety.

Rose Ann Morris, administrator of West Rest Haven Nursing Home and her Director of Nursing, Monica Sinkule will both likely never forget what happened that evening. They, together with literally hundreds of familiar faces of the West, Texas community, ignored warnings of safety concerns to get to the nursing home to help.

"We've conducted fire drills, disaster drills and mock drills on what we would do if the fertilizer plant just yards away from us caught on fire," said Rose Ann Morris, administrator of West Rest Haven (WRH) nursing home. "It all made perfect sense and looked great on paper, but we quickly learned that no one could have possibly prepared completely for what happened to us that night. You can't roll wheelchairs, charts and medication carts over a foot of debris. And the windows? They weren't part of any evacuation plan we devised prior to April 17th, but they were certainly part of our equation that night."

By the time Monica Sinkule arrived on the scene, the police and first responders had the road blocked. "The police wouldn't let me pass," she said. But a familiar face appeared – a WRH board member who was also a volunteer fireman. He cleared her for entry and Sinkule raced to help.  "There was sheet rock, broken glass and blown-in insulation everywhere, even covering residents in their beds," recalls Sinkule. "There was water pouring in from the sprinkler systems, as well as loose debris piled up on the floor."

As Sinkule and assistant administrator, Christina Morris, made their way to the side of the home closest to plant, they heard tiny cries for help from residents trapped in their beds by piles of insulation and broken glass. "We had to literally dig into their beds to see if anyone was in them," says Sinkule. "Once they were safe, we proceeded to the other side of the building thinking it wouldn't be as bad – but when we arrived, we faced the same level of destruction," adds Rose Ann Morris. "I ran to the supply closets to get blankets so people there could use them to help carry residents out. Mattresses were thrown across the glass shards on the window sills as a means of removing the residents without further injury."

WRH is in the middle of a residential area, and, as the team learned that day, staying involved with your community and knowing your neighbors can prove to be a life-saving factor, especially during a disaster of this magnitude. With first responders rushing to battle the fire, WRH staff, family members and other volunteering citizens were first to arrive and start transporting residents to safety when seconds counted. 

"Even the smallest of logistics come into play," said Sinkule. "The night of the explosion, I ran back in to grab charts and I could only reach two stations. Firefighters also assisted with obtaining some of the charts. Since we had to transport people to other nursing homes and hospitals, we weren't able to send charts or access our systems. To make matters worse, we weren't allowed back onsite for nearly two weeks after the disaster."

The scramble to find new homes for the seniors started immediately after the evacuation. Some residents had to go to the hospital because of injuries, but many others were taken to other nursing homes within a few hours of the blast. In the meantime, West Rest Haven has started the process of rebuilding.

AHT provides WRH with clinical and financial software and the many WRH staff will enjoy the recognition they have earned. Says Teresa Chase, President of American HealthTech, "With open hearts, CareHeroes serve others because what they do isn't a job – it's a calling. West Rest Haven's staff and the West community at large exemplify the meaning of CareHero."

Anyone can nominate a CareHero in minutes by visiting

About Healthland and American HealthTech
Healthland is America's largest provider of integrated solutions to rural community and critical access hospitals. Software and services from Healthland, including electronic health records (EHRs), help customers share patient information across care settings to coordinate treatment, improve outcomes, and drive patient satisfaction. American HealthTech is among the nation's largest providers of financial and clinical solutions in post-acute care, connecting skilled providers to the healthcare continuum. With Healthland's acquisition of American HealthTech, the two organizations are aligning to offer solutions across communities of acute and post-acute care settings. Combined, Healthland – headquartered in Minneapolis with offices in its founding location of rural Glenwood, MN – and American HealthTech – headquartered in Jackson Miss. with offices in Denver – employ 450 and serve more than 3,500 clients. More information is available at

SOURCE American HealthTech