Oklahoma health system "pays it forward" for tornado-ravaged Mississippi hospital

An Oklahoma hospital and its employees raised nearly $50,000 for a Mississippi facility destroyed by a tornado, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

In late April, Winston County Medical Center in Louisville was a casualty of a series of tornados that killed 14 people in the state and destroyed many employees' homes and vehicles. In response, David Whitaker, CEO of the Norman (Oklahoma) Regional Health System (NRHS) and Foundation, traveled to Louisville with Anne Clouse, executive director of the NRHS Foundation, to present the hospital with a $48,000 check, half of it from NRHS employee donations.

In addition to their donations, employees also made banners with signed personal messages. "It's an amazing act of kindness," Jaclyn Wright, a registered nurse at Winston, told the Clarion-Ledger. "I think people in our business feel a real closeness, even if we don't know one another. Every single day we laugh with people, cry with people. And often we're the last person they see on earth. So I can understand the spirit that motivated them."

"To help the employees of Winston Medical Center was the right thing to do. It was an amazing and emotional experience, one that I will never forget," Clouse said in a statement from Winston. "It made me so proud to be a part of this Norman Regional family and our 'pay it forward' project."

A year ago, Moore Medical Center, one of the three hospitals Whitaker oversees, was itself destroyed by a tornado, he told the Clarion-Ledger. In response to recent natural disasters, many hospitals incorporate contingency plans into their building designs. For example, two years ago Mercy Hospital Joplin (Missouri) was destroyed by a tornado and is in the process of replacing the facility with one that has numerous storm-proofing features, including "safe rooms" deep in the building core, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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