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St. John's: If You Find Scattered Medical Records, Respect Patients' Privacy

The tornado that ripped through southwest Missouri Sunday evening left many problems for the staff and patients at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.

The high winds caused many medical records to be scattered throughout Joplin and across the Ozarks. Residents in towns as far away as Bolivar and Springfield have reported finding X-Rays and other records in their yards.

St. John’s, which is owned by Mercy Health System, is asking anyone who has found medical records or information that appears to be related to patient care to hold these documents until the hospital can decide on how to collect them. The hospital is requesting that you please respect the privacy of any records you may have, and wait for the hospital to advise you on further instructions.

Joanne Cox is a spokeswoman for St. John’s based in Independence, Kansas. Right now, she’s in Joplin to help the hospital control the medical record outbreak

“We know that might be a little unrealistic to expect that those might be returned; we have asked that if patients could contact us at a later date, a little ways down the road, that would be appreciated,” she said.

The hospital has not lost the records, however. St. John’s uses an electronic system that protects patients’ medical history.

“We have a data center located in Missouri that stores all of our information. It’s a duplicative process, so there’s several layers of redundancy and security and those are stored on our system’s servers,” she said.

According to a release from St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, five patients died in the tornado, and one visitor who was at the hospital. Several caregivers were injured.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.