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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary Sebelius visits Mobile Medical Unit in Joplin

Mobile Medical Unit helped hospital resume life-saving services after tornado struck

August 2, 2011:  Secretary Sebelius visited the Mobile Medical Unit that continues to provide critical services to the people of Joplin, MO following the devastating tornado that struck the city on May 22, 2011.

The tornado crippled the St. John’s Regional Medical Center, just when its services were needed most.  But with the help of funding from ASPR's Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), St. John’s Regional Medical Center was able to resume life-saving services quickly using a 60 bed Mobile Medical Unit.

With the help of the National Guard and the Missouri State Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), the Mobile Medical Unit was set up in Joplin four days after the tornado struck and it was able to start treating patients within a week. The Mobile Medical Unit enabled the local public health and medical response to provide vital services to handle the widespread injuries that were left in the wake of the tornado, including emergency care, surgery, imaging, lab and inpatient care.
The Mobile Medical Unit continues to support the community during its recovery from the tornado, providing patient care, emergency services and intensive care.   It may admit patients directly or send admissions to another Mercy Hospital to ensure that the patients in Joplin have continued access to acute and longer-term care.

Funding from HPP helped ensure that the resources local emergency responders needed were ready to be deployed when disaster struck.  HPP provides leadership and funding through grants to States, territories, and eligible municipalities to improve surge capacity and enhance community and hospital preparedness for public health emergencies.  Grant programs like HPP help communities prepare for the medical surge that often accompanies disaster.

  • This page last reviewed: January 18, 2017