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Business continuity after catastrophic medical events: The Joplin Medical Business Continuity Report

Paul K. Carlton Jr, MD, FACS, Dottie Bringle, RN, BSN, MSHSA


On May 22, 2011, The St Johns Mercy Medical Center in Joplin,MO, was destroyed by an F-5 tornado. There were 183 patients in the building at that time in this 367-bed Medical Center. The preparation and response were superbly done and resulted in many lives saved. This report is focused on the reconstitution phase of this disaster response, which includes how to restore business continuity. As 95 percent of our medical capacity resides in the private sector in the United States, we must have a proper plan for how to restore business continuity or face the reality of the medical business failing and not providing critical medical services to the community. A tornado in 2007 destroyed a medical center in Sumter County, GA, and it took more than 365 days to restore business continuity at a cost of $18M. The plan executed by the Mercy Medical System after the disaster in Joplin restored business continuity in 88 days and cost a total of $6.6M, with all assets being reusable. The recommendation from these lessons learned is that every county, state, and Federal Emergency Management Agency region has a plan on the shelf to restore business continuity and the means to be able to do so. The hard work that the State of Missouri and the Mercy Medical System did after this disaster can serve as a model for the nation in how to quickly recover from any loss of medical capability.


disaster recovery, reconstitution, business continuity

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Litch B: Building from the ground up: Georgia hospital survives a direct tornado hit. Healthc Exec. 2008; 23(6): 28.

2011 Joplin Tornado. Available at Accessed September 11, 2012.



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