People are sure that they are so powerful that can control almost any activity in the world. But it is obvious how powerless people are in front of the forces of nature. Unfortunately, tragedies make people closer more often than moments of happiness. No one can predict what to wait from nature tomorrow. Everything people can do is to react fast and try to prevent terrible results that can occur. Nature disasters are a huge challenge for health and secure service as they oblige to act quickly and efficiently in such situations. Public health is the sphere of life and science that deals with prevention of diseases, prolonging of life through the different public and private organizations, individuals, or communities (Sanderson, Colin, Gruen & Reinhold, 2006). Fighting for lives in the condition of high danger is an extra difficult task of the public health service. In this research, the main aim is to show the activity of public health service in the conditions of high danger through the analysis of tornado in Joplin, Missouri.
Destructions and Mortality Caused by Tornado
On May 22, 2011, a Tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, Missouri. It is a city with the population of more than 50,000 people. In this tragedy, more than 160 people were killed and thousands of people were totally uprooted. More than 7,000 buildings were destroyed, which is one third of the city. St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin’s main hospital, was in the center of tornado’s activity, with more than 200 patients and even more medical staff inside.
Some victims of tornado have died in few weeks from aggressive fungal infections, but most of people succeed in recovering. However, this type of infection was easily found in grass and potatoes; even animals could be carriers of this terrible infection. The medical personnel said that the fungus gets into the skin and lungs by air ( Gayden Molly, 2011).
The tornado resulted in substantial damage to the St. John’s Regional Medical Center and other health care facilities in Joplin. The St. John’s Medical Center remained without power, natural gas, and water supply in the building. The St. John’s and Freeman Health System worked together to achieve the best results in saving lives. Another establishment which deals with behavioral health and other medical services, the Ozark Center, was destroyed by tornado completely (Gayden, 2011).
Local Government Responses to a Tornado Disaster
There was a substantial help from the side of the government and health care organizations in delivery of medical care. The State of Missouri activated the work of Missouri 1 Disaster Medical Team to provide additional medical services for those who suffered from tornado. This team arranged 60-beds mobile hospital, and it was the first one at that area. On the money from grand funds of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hospitals were able to purchase all needed medical equipment and pills to treat patience. St. John’s medical personnel were able to treat patients on a high level and present full range of medical service from May 29, 2011 (HealthCare PSI Blog, 2011).
Moreover, the most difficult patients were moved to Freeman Health System, which is located in 1 mile from St. John’s Regional Medical Center; others were brought to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. The situation was really critical; there were a lot of volunteers who helped to transfer people. Further, other cities provided their help for the city; more than 70 agencies proposed their help and provided ambulance services to the City of Joplin that was severely damaged by the tornado. The cooperation of medical institutions gave an opportunity to solve the problems connected with the lack of medicine and transportation of patients. In critical situations, every minute played a huge role for somebody’s life. (Wilson, Kumanan, Keelan & Jennifer, 2009)
The destruction of the St. John’s Regional Medical Center required fast and creative solutions from the personnel. There was a huge amount of injured people who needed medical help. People, who suffered less from the tornado, helped to transport injured from different districts of the city. In this way the problem of healthcare delivery was solved.
Challenges and Main Issues Faced by Health Care Institutions
Actually all medical issues from the tornado can be divided into two main groups: challenges that take place during the catastrophe and challenges that were influenced by the direct results of the disaster. First group of issues contains: lack of medicine and medical equipment, problems with the healthcare delivery and treatment of patients, problem of stationary medical cure, connected with damaged hospitals. Another group of challenges are derivative from the tornado results. Actually, high stress and difficult conditions of work influenced much the efficiency of medical personnel productivity. Days without rest made impossible to provide high level medical assistance; thus, medical personnel needed to have an opportunity to rejuvenate. Destruction of medical institutions led to the problem of staff employment. It does not mean they were left without work, but without the buildings and consulting, examination, etc. rooms. In addition, different posttraumatic problems, such as alcohol use, different disorders, etc. became more frequent.
All the medical institutions reached maximum patient capacity rather quickly. The efficiency of the health service was on a high level despite difficult and stressful conditions of work. Freeman Health System worked on emergency generators for the first hours after the incident, and this made it possible to heal more than 400 patients with different injures. It was problematic to transport patients to hospitals, which were ruined by tornado and could not provide help to everybody; thus, medical personnel came to decision to organize special medical posts to treat patients. They were located at Memorial Hall, Catholic High School, and parking of Home Depot and Lowe`s. Due to the news reports, there were more than 200 people who received medical help in such posts. The ambulances had to treat people in such posts as there was no possibility to transport them. So, it was actually the only way to safe people lives in the conditions of such disaster.
Afterwards of Joplin’s Tragedy and Prevention of Mortality in Emergency Situations
Vicky Mieseler from Ozark Center pointed out that there was a huge increase of alcohol use after the accident (Prina, 2012). Nowadays, storm season brings a huge wave of fear to the people of the city. They are afraid something terrible to happen again. Mieseler also paid attention to the fact that people who survived after tornado need not only physical cure but mental as well. There is such a phenomenon called “compassion fatigue”, and it means mental disorders caused by stressful situations (Prina, 2012).This is the next step in rehabilitation of people after the disaster.
Barbara Bilton, noticed that people lost a lot while the storm, not only medicines or crutches, and mentioned that people were close like never before (Prina, 2012). Everyone took part in saving people. It was difficult for medical workers to cope with everything by themselves; thus, they appreciated people’s help very much. As there was a strong need in medical assistance and mental rehabilitation, several Human Services Campuses were placed near the city of Joplin. They made possible to arrange efficient medical care without going to hospital.
In the high stressful situation, while the St. John’s Medical Center was destroyed by the tornado, Mercy Hospital was ready to meet patients and provide the whole range of medical care, even surgeries. It is important to admit that the reconstruction of the Medical center will last not for a year, because of catastrophic damages, but a lot of efforts were made to minimize the loss from tornado. Instead, Freeman Hospital was not damaged by the storm. Nowadays, it plays an important role in the health care system of the region.
More than $230,000 in grants was provided in 2011 to help the victims of tornado in Joplin. Actually, the Missouri Foundation for Health awarded more than $498,299 for the reconstruction and development. There was a huge range of medical institutions that got this grants. Money was provided to St. John’s too to help the hospital to compensate the free treatment during the weeks following after tornado (Prina, 2012).
Brandon Wade, a filmmaker, presented a movie devoted to the Joplin tornado and the heroic actions of doctors and their cooperation with citizens. He got awards for his film, including Missouri Foundation for Health’s in 2012.
Organization of public health service is the main task of every country. Unfortunately, not each of them has it on a high level. Especially in time of emergency, it is possible to see its real efficiency and real picture of things. After analysis of the situation that took place in May 2011, it can be said that the public health service in The United States of America is presented on a rather high level, and its efficiency could be seen even in stressful situations. Of course, there are certain disadvantages, but, in general, situation is good. Medical organizations cooperate and help each other in times of emergences. They are able to come with creative ideas if needed, they have quick reaction in providing medicine and equipment for the patients, they are mobile and get to patients in any region of the city, they are able to organize so needed medical posts in short terms, and in the emergency like tornado, patients can get high level of services, even surgery ones.
It is better never to have such accidents, but understanding of the fact that you will get medical help gives the feeling of safety. Obviously, even highly develop states have problems concerning healthcare delivery challenges and medical care issues. But it is the aspect that needs more practice for correction. This solution needs cooperation of different medical organizations which deal with this questions as health problem is the problem of the whole society, not only some part of it.
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