As a medical malpractice insurance broker in the Southwest Missouri area, I have traveled many times to meet with, engage in conversation and even relax and enjoy a good meal with the physicians of Joplin. For twelve years I have visited this thriving town of over 50,000 and it has become like my own town, familiar.
As I listened to the reports on May 23rd; and saw the emerging pictures on May 30th; and ran reports of names and addresses and phone numbers of my clients on May 31st; and slowly began to connect with my clients on June 1st; I could NEVER have prepared myself for the moment I entered what looked like a war zone. Splinters of leftover homes, stuffed animals lying in the middle of rubble, clothing wrapped around a tree, all evidence that once this area teemed with life. Trees were not only devoid of leaves and even branches but actually stripped of their bark. How does one recover from such tragedy? How do you help these people?
Residents Still Show a Sense of Community – Life Continues On
The residents of Joplin have shown a sense of community, tenacity and the ability to not only dig out of but rise above the leftovers of an EF 5 tornado, one of the worst in history. The out pouring of support, the stories of survival, there are so many with so much to share that it’s hard to believe and harder to process. No amount of pictures could ever prepare you for the moment you lay your eyes on such total and complete ruin. Yet the city and its residents persevere, and life as they know it continues on, and the hard work of the medical personnel and the rescue workers delivered so many from harm and so few that ended in total loss.
For two days, the medical community suffered the loss of one of two large hospitals to the area. Physicians were displaced, their practices completely destroyed, and yet they continued on. They selflessly offered services well into the second day and third day with little concern for themselves truly supporting the Hippocratic Oath they took when becoming physicians. These same physicians had their practices in total annihilation and some had lost even their homes, but never thought of themselves until they were certain they had done all they could. These are heroes in their own rite.
Physicians Put Their Personal Lives Aside to Aide Those in Need
Once their patients were cared for, they began rebuilding their own lives. In some cases it was only a business, in others they had lost all of their worldly possessions but held their families safe. In the case of one practice they had an office set up and all of their patients had access to their care within 72 hours after the storm. In other cases it was only a few more hours and they were opening their doors again. Many were pulling in favors from their network of contacts across the state, opening for business just days after that fateful day. MGMA chapters all over the state came to the aid of this area’s physicians with supplies from machinery, to wall hangings, to office furniture and exam room equipment.
The stories of survival were the most touching, and the shock that was caused by some recounting hours after the storm passed, gave life to the pictures I saw on TV and the internet. So many were touched in so many ways, but the common denominator was the support from the entire area that left so many with so much when they had so little.
Final Conclusion – In the Aftermath…
In the aftermath a hospital is shattered but the community spirit is not.
In the aftermath the medical community is in rubble, but they continue to thrive, providing services to the community to keep them healthy.
In the aftermath the physical loss is predominantly property and the loss of life few, though to the loved ones left behind of those few, it is felt to their core.
In the aftermath, a new community will rise.
In the aftermath…….. Joplin is already rebuilding.