Five years after an EF-5 tornado destroyed a Moore hospital, the staff says they’re stronger than ever.
Physical therapist Sara Merchant says she’s looked at life differently since May 20, 2013.
“I feel like I am much more grateful every day that I get to live another day,” Merchant said.
Another day at work for Merchant, means another day at the former Moore Medical Center, now Norman Regional Moore.
“I was proud to work here before then, and even more so now,” Merchant said.
The physical therapist remembers the fear as staff gathered everyone in the cafeteria.
As the storm began tearing through the structure, some people prayed, others panicked.
Merchant was preparing.
“Me and one of my coworkers were running through the debris to our department to find supplies and ironically enough there was no wall but the shelf with all the supplies was still sitting there,” Merchant said.
As his staff kept patients safe, hospital CEO Richie Splitt, just two weeks into the job at the time, rushed over in time to see the damage.
“Walls were tilted. Cars were inside the building, cars were on top of the building,” Split said.
No patients or staff were seriously hurt, thanks to the hospital’s preparation.
“Our staff, we drill, train and exercise for disasters repeatedly,” Splitt said.
The staff continues to prepare.
The rebuilt facility has a safe room, and the emergency plan is constantly updated.
Now the facility is thriving with room for growth, and employees stay bonded not just as staff, but as survivors.
“I just wouldn’t want to work anywhere else,” Merchant said.