Hospitals built to withstand tornados after Missouri storm

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A Missouri healthcare company says it has toughened safety requirements for construction at its hospitals since six people died at its facility in Joplin when a massive tornado ripped through the town.

St. Louis Public Radio reports that Mercy health has prioritized securing its new hospitals with storm-resistant materials and backup generators.

The EF-5 tornado destroyed Joplin’s St. John’s Hospital in May 2011, blowing out all the windows, and hindering evacuation by knocking out lights and drywall. The tornado killed 161 people.

Mercy health has equipped the new wing at Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Festus with safety glass windows that can withstand winds over 100 miles (160 kilometers) an hour. It has installed reinforced stairwells, battery-powered lights and windowless areas where patients can gather before a tornado hits.