The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 6, 2013

Joplin’s biggest building project remains on track

New Mercy Hospital will have glass to resist 250 mph winds

JOPLIN, Mo. — Cold, wet weather this spring hasn’t been enough to knock the biggest building project in Joplin’s history off track.

Nor will weather be able to knock the hospital off line again.

“The March 2015 deadline has not changed,” John Farnen said last week. He is overseeing the construction as Sisters of Mercy Health System’s executive director of strategic projects. “Some intermediate dates have been missed, but we can catch up by working a weekend here or there.”

The new Mercy Hospital Joplin also will be the first of its kind: a hospital that has been hardened to withstand a large tornado.

Compared with the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed on May 22, 2011, the new 260-bed hospital will be clad with a tougher brick and cast-concrete skin where stucco existed before. It also will be fitted with newly invented windows that far exceed the standard for commercial work.

Those and other safety features will add about 2 percent to 3 percent to the project’s estimated $350 million bottom line, but Farnen said the windows and frames, for example, will be built to withstand winds of 110 mph, 140 mph and 250 mph, depending on where the windows are located. That compares with the 90 mph standard that existed before.

250 mph glass

“There is no standard glass in this facility,” Farnen said of the new hospital. “We have a firm in Iowa that is designing the glass because none of it exists today. The 110 mph glass and the 140 mph glass have passed their testing.

“The 250 mph glass is still going through final testing in Minnesota. May 15 will be the final test for that glass.”

The EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin two years ago had winds of more than 200 mph. Most of the windows in the former hospital were blown out. Inside the building, the wind blew out walls, doors and ceilings, causing extensive damage.

Five patients and one visitor died in the hospital, out of the 189 who were in the building that day. The five patients who died were on ventilators. Flying debris knocked out the hospital’s backup electrical power system. When the power failed, the ventilators stopped.

Right after the storm, a team of engineers went into the medical center to determine what worked structurally and what did not, and designers are incorporating that information into the new hospital.

The only windows to survive were those that had been reinforced with a laminate. The laminated windows were used in the medical center’s behavioral health unit for patient protection.

The windows with a 110 mph rating will be used in public areas that can be evacuated quickly. Patient rooms will have laminated glass capable of withstanding 140 mph winds. The intensive care unit, where patients will be protected in place, will have windows with the 250 mph rating.

Other Mercy hospitals in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma also could get the new windows, Farnen said.

“Hurricane glass has been designed to sustain high winds, but it’s not the same as tornado glass, which can react to flying projectiles,” he said.

When a tornado warning is issued, patients and visitors will be moved into the hospital’s interior. Every floor of the hospital will have a reinforced core area.

The first and second floors of the 875,000-square-foot hospital will have clay brick exteriors. The upper floors will be precast concrete with brick veneer.

Farnen said, “The entire exterior skin will be made of a harder material, which will prevent the kind of exterior damage we saw at the old hospital and help prevent the kind of interior damage that led to chaos and injuries.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Embezzler from Joplin car dealerships sent to prison

    A federal judge has sentenced Kathryn M. Stayton to 13 months in prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from Frank Fletcher Ford and Credit Cars of Joplin. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays assessed the 36-year-old Joplin woman the prison term at a sentencing hearing this week in federal court in Springfield. The judge also ordered the former controller at both car dealerships to pay restitution totaling $121,249. 51.

    April 18, 2014

  • Screening of MSSU presidential applicants to wrap by end of April

    The Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University could be in a position to name a president as early as the end of June, according to a timeline presented Friday by the co-chair of the presidential search committee.

    April 18, 2014

  • Teams from Carl Junction, Diamond advance in Destination Imagination

    Student teams from Carl Junction and Diamond will be traveling to Destination Imagination finals May 20-24 in Knoxville, Tenn., after being top finishers in competition this month at Missouri Southern State University.

    April 18, 2014

  • Neosho Dogwood Tour reset, after false start

    The 53rd annual Neosho Dogwood Tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27. The event, presented by the Neosho Rotary Club and the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, originally was scheduled for Sunday, April 13.

    April 18, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Pittsburg Farmer's Market to open in new building, new location

    The official market season in Pittsburg, Kan., will kick off in the market’s new pavilion-style building at a new address, 11th and Broadway, on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Market hours will continue throughout the season on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon, with some Wednesdays or other special days throughout the season as announced.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read


A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter