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
  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin couple indicted in child porn case

    A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin couple Wednesday for alleged sexual exploitation of a second child in addition to a girl who was the subject of a preceding indictment of the husband for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography.

    July 23, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read


Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter