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Lives of Doctor Wives: May 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Survivor Stories - Joplin Hospital one year later

One year ago today, my husband and I were looking forward to life after residency.  My husband was finishing his residency in Kansas City and had just received a great job offer for a pm&r position and medical director at St. John's in Joplin.   And just one week earlier, we had finally found a great house that had everything we were looking for and more in it!  Things were looking up and life finally seemed to be going our way!

On Saturday, May 21st, we headed down to Joplin so that John Michael could attend a meeting at St. John's.  I later learned that one of the discussions at their meeting was renovations that they wanted to get started on.  After the meeting, we went down to Arkansas for our nephew's birthday party.

On Sunday, May 22nd, we left to make the 4 hour drive back to KC.  We were probably an hour away from KC, when we started hearing reports of a tornado in Joplin.  I kept looking on facebook and people were posting that St. John's had been hit and was about to explode.  (It never exploded.) However, the EF5 tornado did completely destroy it.

We got home and watched CNN for hours that night.  And our pure happiness that we had been experiencing only hours ago, had just all just vanished.  That following week was like living in a daze.  Of course, we were worried for Joplin, but we also had no idea where we stood.  Would my husband still have a job?  Should we try to pull out of our house contract?

As my husband finished up his residency, he was working at Children's Mercy in KC.  And as it happened, he actually got to take care of one of the Joplin kiddos that had been injured and was now at CM.  I honestly kind of feel like he was meant to have this rotation last so that he could have this amazing connection with Joplin while we were still living in KC.

After about a week or what seemed like weeks later, my husband was finally able to make contact with someone and learned that the hospital promised that everyone would still have a job.  However, of course, things were going to be different for a while.  In July, when my husband "started" his new job here, he worked in a convention center.  His main duties then were networking and providing OMT.  In August, the hospital set up temporary trailers (much nicer than it sounds!), and he finally begin to start doing some outpatient work.  As of today, he is still in the same location, but another temporary hospital has been built.

We both do feel as if there were some positives in this rather unusual situation.  For starters, he got to work closely with a few of the exec's and develop a rapport with them.  In their temporary location, he also works in close proximity to a few of the other specialists and is able to just walk down the hall if he needs to consult with them.  And probably most importantly, we've seen the true spirit of the hospital, as well as the community, come together during this past year.

Our first year out has been much more difficult than we ever imagined it would be at this exact time last year.  But at the same time, it has truly been a good year filled with plenty of learning experiences and life lessons.  I know that my husband would be proud to say he works for Mercy/St.John's.

To read the amazing story of the ER doctor working at the time of the tornado, click here. Be aware that it is graphic and heart-wrenching.  
To learn more about my family, you can view my personal blog here.
If you have any questions, you can contact me on my blog or leave a comment here.