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Marshalltown Strong – Employee Stories from the Frontlines

July 31, 2018

On Thursday, July 19, the UnityPoint Health family was impacted as a tornado ripped through our Marshalltown community. The Marshalltown main campus and cardiovascular clinic took a devastating hit. Luckily, no patients or staff were injured within the hospital, but these buildings suffered extensive damage, the Emergency Department was transferred to the Medical Park and 43 patients were evacuated to outside facilities.

Many UnityPoint Health - Marshalltown employees also endured significant damage to their personal property and/or lost their homes completely, yet they’ve displayed a resilience that is nothing short of amazing.

Despite the devastation, this tragedy has brought our teams closer together, and employees across the system are reaching out to provide support to their Marshalltown colleagues.

Read the stories below from Marshalltown team members who have been impacted by the tornado, and learn how we are proving to be stronger together.

Ana Garcia, RN – Intensive Care

“Around 4:30 pm, the warning went off and that’s when my brother and I noticed our lights starting to flicker. We heard on the radio that the tornado was five minutes away from the north side of Marshalltown - right where we live. As we found shelter in the basement, the windows shattered and debris blew into our home. We could see and feel the house shake. When things settled, our roof was leaking and all the upstairs windows had shattered, leaving glass all over the house.

Later, I received a message that UnityPoint Health was offering assistance to employees and I’ve been very grateful for all the support we’ve received. It makes me thankful to work for UnityPoint Health and to know I’m not alone. The first few days were hard, but everything is starting to feel a little better. Going outside and seeing the way our neighborhood looks is difficult, but we know we’re going to get through this.”

Viviana Yanez-Fuentes, Security Operation

“It was just me and my son when we heard the sirens go off. We headed downstairs to the basement and not even two minutes later, the lights started flickering and it went completely dark. I started to feel my home shake and the dirt from the basement ceiling fall on us. During the tornado, all I could think about was that my home might be gone when this was over. I just held my son tight and told him it was going to be ok. It was so shocking that I couldn’t even cry. A minute or two later, everything was quiet and I came up from the basement to find that our fence, roof and gutters all needed to be replaced.

The tornado really impacted the community, but Marshalltown has made so much improvement already. We have so many people helping each other – going around the clock to make sure we have the resources we need. I’m really proud of the community and to be a part of the UnityPoint Health family.”

Kathy Haloupek, Anesthesia Assistant

“As I saw the weather warnings scroll across the TV, we decided to get to safety. My significant other, Alan, was in a wheelchair and we were unable to get to the basement. We went into a small walk-in closet in our bedroom, but his wheelchair wouldn’t fit. Inside the closet, Alan and I held onto each other, praying we could get through it. The tornado only lasted a few minutes, but we came out to find two trees on our house and one in the driveway. The storm had taken our carport and put it on the neighbor’s house and shattered a window in my vehicle.

The gift card and assistance I received from the hospital has helped so much. I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone, but it’s been a remarkable learning experience where I’ve learned to be grateful for the little things. It didn’t dawn on me that our hospital might do something like this to help employees. It was just amazing to know that UnityPoint Health stands behind us.”

We will continue to share stories regarding our team members in Marshalltown.

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