The Norman Transcript

News Features

November 13, 2013

Windy week

MOORE — Richie Splitt started work as Moore Medical Center’s top executive on May 13. Seven days later on May 20, an EF-5 tornado destroyed the Moore facility along with the cars of every Moore Medical employee and doctor who was at the hospital that day.

Splitt came to the Norman Regional Health System with 26 years of experience. As the chief administrator for MMC and the new HealthPlex in Norman, he spent the first week on the job just meeting the employees under his care.

“That week of the 13th through the 17th was hospital week, so we had a number of things going on,” Splitt said. “Employee forums and the ‘introduction of Richie’ to the staffs of Moore Medical and the HealthPlex.”

The events were happy affairs, some involving burgers or popcorn, he remembered. As a native Oklahoman who had grown up in south Oklahoma City, attended Moore schools, and worked in the Oklahoma City greater metro health community, he saw many familiar faces that first week on the job.

“It was a very welcoming staff,” he said. “It felt like home.”

On May 20, Splitt was attending an executive meeting at Norman Regional Health System’s Porter campus. The leadership staff heard the weather warnings and had a television on as a precaution. As the severity of the storm became clear, attention shifted to the events unfolding on TV.

“We abandoned our meeting and began watching the storm as it developed,” Splitt said.

Being new on the job, Splitt didn’t yet have cell phone numbers of his staff, but he found a number and called to check on his team at Moore Medical.

“We were on alert — that stage where you prepare to move the patients,” he said. “I was assured we were in good order.”

Volunteers had been sent home at noon. All patients except a woman in labor had been moved to the cafeteria. Three staff members stayed with her and sheltered in place.

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