Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon gets an up-close look at tornado damage at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin.
St. John's confirms six died at Joplin hospital; toll now at 118
Hours after Gov. Jay Nixon walked through piles of twisted cars, a wrecked emergency helicopter and medical equipment scattered across St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, hospital officials in Springfield yesterday confirmed six deaths at St. John’s-Joplin among the 118 declared dead so far from the May 22 tornado.
Nixon held a 3 p.m. press conference with local emergency and city officials at the National Guard Armory, and he toured the hard-hit areas in this southwest Missouri city of 49,000, where officials have said at least 2,000 homes and businesses are damaged from an estimated three-quarter-mile F-4 twister that ripped through a third of Joplin.
In early evening May 23, St. John’s confirmed the six deaths, which resulted even as doctors, nurses and other caregivers rushed patients and visitors to the hospital’s inner hallways and eventually evacuated the 183 patients to regional medical centers, including CoxHealth in Springfield.
The National Weather Service reported 400 injuries from the 190-mile winds during the 9-minute tornado that swept across seven miles of the city.
Another health care provider, Oxford HealthCare, lost its Joplin office, and all but a handful of its 2,000 Joplin-area home-care patients had been located, President Karen Thomas said this morning from her Springfield office.
The company estimated more than 100 patients lived in the path of the tornado, and Thomas was not aware of any deaths among the patients accounted for by Oxford’s staff.
She said the 1701 W. 26th St. office was “totally destroyed,” and Oxford is currently working out of Destiny Church, 3411 N. Rangeline Road.
“If there’s anything you can say that was fortunate about it was that it was Sunday and we did not have any employees in the building at the time,” Thomas said, adding that at least three employees’ homes were destroyed.
She said of the 600 employees who report to the Joplin office none had died during the storm, and in accordance with the company’s emergency preparedness plan, 10 Springfield employees are actively checking shelters and hospitals throughout the region to locate the remaining patients.
“They were able to start their calling trees and contact employees, who in turn contacted their clients and we were able to identify people in that way,” Thomas said. “They were very methodical. They had a plan and they put that plan into place.”
Reporter Brian Brown contributed to this story.[[In-content Ad]]
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