While many of us sit open-mouthed in front of the mobile devices, televisions and radios we use to access news of natural or man-made catastrophes, a comparatively small group of folks springs to action. During such times, these people put aside their desire to tightly hug their children, tack another 12 or 24 hours onto their shifts and get to work.

In what recently has begun to feel like an unrelenting string of bad news, profound tragedies have been met head-on with equally profound heroism and generosity of spirit.

Physicians and nurses have cared for the wounded in hospitals and on sidewalks and football fields, and hospital staff have rallied to deliver supplies of all kinds wherever they were needed, often before they were requested. Trustees to parking attendants have internalized the lessons of earlier mass casualty events; yet, miraculously, they still show up to serve.

Were it just crisis medical care, the responses to the bombs at the Boston Marathon and the explosions at the Texas fertilizer factory would be triumphs of planning and training. But we know that nearby hospitals did much more. Our cover story, "After the Storms," offers a glimpse of the hospital leaders and personnel who not only tended to the injured after historic hurricanes and tornadoes, but whose collective compassion enabled those places of caring to serve as citizen sanctuaries.

There are very few places left in our towns and cities — and even our imaginations — that symbolize safety, comfort, altruism. Hospitals are among those places, partly because the people inside have chosen humanitarian careers and partly because their board members love their communities. Even as we grieve the losses, we can be proud of fulfilling our missions.