March 22, 2015 — that’s the date Mercy Hospital Joplin will move into the new hospital under construction at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard.
Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin, encouraged about 130 people who attended a dinner and community round table Thursday night in Billingsly Student Center at Missouri Southern State University to mark that date on their calendars.
“It’s a Sunday,” Pulsipher said. “We had hoped to do that on March 2 because it was on that date in 1968 that they moved into St. John’s Regional Medical Center. But they told us there was no way they would be ready by then.”
Pulsipher said the hospital is fully enclosed now, so the contractor, McCarthy Building Cos., has a firm idea of how long it will take to complete the hospital.
The 260-plus private room hospital will occupy 875,000 square feet and cost $335 million to construct. It replaces the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center that was demolished in the May 22, 2011, tornado.
Among the speakers Thursday night was Dr. Joe Kahn, president of Mercy Kids, who said a children’s hospital will be part of the new hospital. The new hospital will dedicate an entire floor to children’s health services, including a neonatal intensive care unit.
“This is an exciting time as we are designing this pediatric inpatient unit,” he said.
Kahn said pediatric specialists are traveling from Springfield to Joplin to develop the program, and Mercy is recruiting physicians for the neonatal intensive care unit.
A 700-square-foot Ronald McDonald House will be located on the pediatric floor.
Kahn said a new employee of the hospital will have the specific task of assessing the community’s needs and the needs of children.
Kahn said the emphasis on children’s health stems from community meetings Mercy held in 2009 when it took over operations at St. John’s.
Another speaker, Fred Osborn, regional vice president for Mercy philanthropy, showed a video of the new hospital under construction as part of the Advancing Care Together Campaign of the Mercy Health Foundation. The campaign has a goal of raising $15 million.
So far, the campaign has raised $11.3 million. Osborn said a matching challenge grant of $1 million has been offered by the Mabee Foundation, of Tulsa, Okla., if the campaign can reach $14 million.
Osborn said the new hospital is “a monument to rebuilding of Joplin.”
That point was emphasized by Lynn Britton, president and CEO of Mercy, when he told a story about a driving trip his wife made from St. Louis to Dallas. Britton said he was in a meeting when he got a phone call from his wife.
“She told me she had pulled over to the side of the road in Joplin because she was overcome with emotion at the sight of the new hospital,” he said. “She had to stop her trip and admire it.
“Joplin is on a path back to recovery that will be better than it ever was before.”
THE CONSTRUCTION TEAM broke ground in January 2012 on the 100-acre site. A “topping off” ceremony marking the placement of the last beam at the top of the building was held in March 2013. As of December, more than 1.5 million man-hours had been logged on the project.