Tornado Lashes Hospital, CEO Puts Focus on Recovery

John Commins, May 7, 2014

The interim CEO of a small Mississippi hospital survived a devastating tornado, but his hospital did not. Though he mourns the loss of life and property, his outlook is strategic: "Let's make the best of it and come out of it better."

It's been 10 days since an EF4 tornado corkscrewed down from the black skies over Winston County, MS, and changed everything on the ground for the people who live there.

The storm's 160-mph winds cut a swath of death and destruction across Winston County, located about 90 miles northeast of Jackson. It killed nine people and wreaked millions of dollars in property damage as part of violent weather front that claimed 34 lives in six states on April 28.

Winston Medical Center in Louisville, pop. 6,600, the county seat, was in the path of the funnel cloud. The 27-bed hospital sustained heavy interior damage and has since closed its doors.

One patient suffered a laceration to the back of his head, but otherwise none of the 11 patients or staff huddled inside the hospital hallways were seriously injured when the twister blew out windows, ripped down ceiling tiles, and tossed debris throughout the interior.

Interim CEO Paul Black, on the job for less than one week, was in the hospital emergency room that afternoon monitoring the storm on local media and hoping for the best. Right about then things took a turn for the worst.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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