Hospital shows emergency preparedness after direct hit by tornado

Hospitals have had to put their emergency response plans to the test in the wake of the recent natural disasters. Such was the case for St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., which was struck by a devastating tornado on Sunday and sustained major damage, report the New York Times, the Springfield News-Leader and Kansas City Star.

The 320-bed facility took a "direct hit," said Keith Stammer, Jasper County Emergency Management Director. The seven-story hospital, one of the largest buildings in the downtown area, was reported to have had its walls sheared off and windows blown out.

Its patients and staff were in the midst of being evacuated on Sunday evening, with the patients being transferred to other hospitals, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Photos of the hospital showed a destroyed helicopter and many overturned vehicles in its parking lot.

Hospital personnel had about a 20-minute warning of the impending tornado. They followed the facility's emergency plan of moving patients into corridors, but there were still reports of people being flung about. There were no immediate reports regarding casualties involving hospital personnel and patients.

The tornado killed at least 24 people in Joplin, a city of about 50,000 in the Southwest portion of the state near the Kansas border. It was unclear as to whether any of the dead were hospital employees or patients.

Joplin was last struck by a tornado in 1971, although another tornado passed close to the city in 2008.

For more:
- read the New York Times article
- read the Kansas City Star article
- here's the News-Leader article