Tornado closes 1 hospital, injures 100 people

Tornadoes in Oklahoma injured at least 100 people and killed four, and damaged a Mercy hospital, according to a report published April 29 on EMS1 and local news stations.

The tornadoes began April 27 around Sulphur, Okla., with one cutting through the town and injuring 30, while others appeared in nearby towns. The storms washed out roads and knocked out power for more than 40,000 customers, according to the report.

Across the state, hospitals have reported about 100 injured, including people cut or struck by debris, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said, according to the report.

"Hospitals in Oklahoma plan and prepare regularly for severe weather," Rich Rasmussen, president and CEO of Oklahoma Hospital Association, told Becker's. "That planning ensured the safety of the patients cared for in hospitals impacted by the April 27 tornadoes. As part of the robust planning, patients were moved to places of safety within the hospitals, and when the weather cleared, patient transfers were made. Collaboration with emergency management officials, response agencies, and hospitals across the region ensured that patients and on-duty team members were safe."

One tornado struck Marietta, Okla.-based Mercy Health Love County hospital around 11:30 p.m. The hospital moved patients to safety before the tornado. Ten patients were transferred to other area hospitals after the storm.

It announced it has closed for the foreseeable future as the hospital and clinic are not safe for patient care, Fox23 reported. About 150 employees work for the hospital.

"Our focus is taking care of our people because they are so crucial to our organization," Catherine Codispoti, chief people officer at St. Louis-based Mercy, told Fox23. "We want our coworkers to know their jobs are secure, and we are working through plans to support and redeploy them while we work through next steps in Marietta."

Other hospitals, such as Purcell (Okla.) Municipal Hospital, managed by SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital, are on standby to assist their neighbors.

"As of today, no assistance or patient transfers have been needed," a hospital spokesperson told Becker's. "The hospital in Purcell did not have an operational impact from the storms. The staff at Purcell Municipal Hospital are supporting the Sulphur community by mobilizing a nonperishable food and water drive in collaboration with one of the Purcell city councilmen. Supplies will be delivered to the Red Cross later this week."

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