The Norman Transcript

May 22, 2013

Hospital workers acted on their training

By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Medical providers acted on training and instinct Monday afternoon when an EF-5 tornado tore through the Moore Medical Center, 700 S. Telephone Road.

Shannon Largent, clinical nurse manager at the center, said the hospital was on high weather alert the entire day. As the tornado approached, the staff on Largent’s floor moved nine inpatients from the second floor to the first-floor hallway in the emergency department.

“I think preparation is important, and we certainly have drills and know what to do, but you can’t ever anticipate what it’s actually going to be like when it happens,” she said. “Everybody was calm. We all knew what the right thing to do was. We were keeping our patients safe and each other safe, and that was the work we needed to do at that time.”

In the aftermath of the tornado, the approximately 250 center employees and 30 hospital patients were all safe and accounted for, Norman Regional Health System media relations coordinator Kelly Wells said.

“Nobody suffered any significant tornado-related injuries,” Wells said.

After the storm passed, Largent said staff evacuated all patients into the parking lot and set up triage areas at the Warren Theater until they could be transported to permanent locations.

“When we first started to evacuate the building and try to get everybody out and we saw the light of day and saw that there was so much destruction — you can’t really take that in at that moment. ... I felt like those moments were really surreal,” Largent said. “You can’t really prepare for that. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”

Patients from the center were eventually transported to either Norman Regional Hospital, 901 N. Porter Ave., or the HealthPlex Hospital, 3500 HealthPlex Pkwy., both in Norman.

Two patients who suffered injuries from Monday’s tornado have been discharged from the hospital, according to NRHS. This brings the current total to 18 hospitalized patients. Norman Regional also can confirm one death. The Medical Examiner’s Office has been notified and this death should be included in the Medical Examiner’s statistics.

More than 100 patients have been treated from storm-related injuries at either Norman Regional Hospital or the HealthPlex Hospital. About 75 to 80 people were treated at Norman Regional Hospital. Another 40 to 45 sought treatment at the HealthPlex.

The Norman Regional Patient Care Hotline, 307-1366, is still activated for loved ones to call who may be searching for a family member.

Largent said the community should be proud of their local health system.

“I want to make sure that everybody knows our staff was really professional, calm and collected when they needed to be, and we did the good work that needed to be done yesterday for the patients and for ourselves,” she said.

Hannah Cruz