MO Hospitals Review Highlights Value of Disaster Preparedness

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 21, 2012

Tuesday, May 22 marks the one year anniversary of the devastating tornado that killed 161 people in Joplin, MO and hobbled the city's healthcare delivery infrastructure.

In seconds, an EF5 tornado packing winds in excess of 200 mph destroyed the 367-bed St. John's Mercy Regional Medical Center. It was the most infamous and deadly event in a spate of natural disasters that plagued the Show Me State in 2011. Floods, blizzards, and other ferocious tornadoes across Missouri resulted in fatalities, thousands of injuries, hundreds of millions of dollars in property damages, and severely strained healthcare services. 

The Missouri Hospital Association this month issued a report that suggests that hospitals that successfully overcame these disasters in 2011 depended in no small part upon the emergency preparedness plans they've been developing for the last decade.

"This wasn't something that they just learned the day before the event started. This has been a labor of love for the last 10 years," says Jackie Gatz, director of emergency preparedness at MHA.

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