The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

February 28, 2013

Steel superstructure for Mercy Hospital Joplin takes shape

JOPLIN, Mo. — With the experience that comes from doing something over and over again, the crane operator lifted the final steel beam to the top of the seven-story patient tower, where ironworkers quickly fastened it into place.

On the ground below, a cheer went up among dozens of workers who were watching the historic moment: the topping out of Mercy Hospital Joplin.

On the beam were the signatures of hundreds of hospital employees, many of whom had worked at the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which took a direct hit from the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Also lifted to the top of the structure were an American flag and an evergreen sapling. The significance of the sapling was explained during a ceremony Thursday afternoon that preceded the lifting of the beam.

“The evergreen symbolizes a tradition that this has been a good job with no loss of life,” said John Farnen, project manager for Sisters of Mercy Health System. “It also is said to bring prosperity and longevity to the occupants.”

Gathered under a tent warmed with portable heaters near the base of the hospital at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard, speakers said the steel structure was symbolic of the mission of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.

“Catherine McAuley said, ‘Proof of love is deed,”’ said Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “This structure testifies to the truth of that thought.”

Pulsipher said that within days of the tornado, hospital workers were back on the job in a temporary tent hospital. After that, they were working in trailers while a new component hospital was being constructed. It opened early last year. The new hospital is to be completed two years from now in the spring of 2015.

In a statement released by McCarthy Building Cos., Stephen Meuschke, project manager for McCarthy, said, “We will have the new replacement hospital open three and a half years after the tornado hit Joplin, which is approximately half the time you would normally anticipate to plan, design and construct a similar size hospital.”

McCarthy began working with Mercy planners to develop the functional program for the replacement hospital in July 2011 and completed the program three months later. The functional team included the architectural firms of Archimages, HKS, and Heideman & Associates.

Interior work began in December on the lower floors of the hospital and will begin this spring in the two towers.

For those attending the ceremony, Farnen provided details about the scope of the project. The hospital is supported by 325 piers that are up to 80 feet deep. One million cubic yards of soil and rock have been moved. That’s equal to 100,000 dump trucks of material. There are 6,000 pieces of steel in the structure. More than 400,000 square feet of concrete flooring will be poured, which is enough to build 200 houses. More than 700 miles of wire will be used, which is enough to rig a zip line from Joplin to New Orleans, La.

The hospital, he said, is affecting the local economy, with 75 percent of the work force being local. There are about 200 people on site. That number will grow to 600 as the hospital nears completion. More than $2 million has been spent on miscellaneous items purchased locally. Local builders have received $30 million worth of contracts.

Lynn Britton, president of Sisters of Mercy Health System, said he recently attended the National Prayer Breakfast and met with leaders from around the world. The mention of Mercy and Missouri triggered questions about Joplin and the post-tornado progress that is being made.

“The world is watching you,” Britton said.

He noted that the neonatal intensive care unit in the hospital is being funded by the United Arab Emirates.

Rob O’Brian, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, said Catherine McAuley was known for creating “a house of prosperity, caring and education” in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1820s. He thanked Mercy for bringing the same kind of place to Joplin.

Janet Gentry lived in a home along Indiana Avenue on the east side of the hospital site for 36 years. She and her horses were the last to move from the construction site in July of last year. She has relocated to a farm eight miles south of Joplin.

Seeing the hospital up close for the first time was staggering.

“It looks huge to me,” Gentry said. “This whole area is so different now, and it’s going to change even more. It’s going to take a while to get used to it.”

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414trainwreck.jpg Coming Sunday: Service to mark the centennial of deadly train wreck

    One of the deadliest train wrecks in U.S. history occurred a century ago just south of Joplin, near Tipton Ford.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • 1717 Marketplace developer facing more federal charges

    The Springfield developer of 1717 Marketplace on Range Line Road in Joplin is now facing additional bankruptcy fraud charges beyond those leveled against him last year for a series of bank fraud and wire fraud schemes.

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514_boyfriend3.jpg Overacted on purpose: 'The Boy Friend' is a send-off of '20s-era musicals

    The musical is filled with history. It is the third-longest-running musical in British history, and Julie Andrews starred in the Broadway debut of the play in America. The musical is also the first Broadway musical to be performed by Joplin Little Theatre, which first picked up the script in 1960, about 20 years after its formation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514_chubby.jpg Grammy win has kept zydeco singer Chubby Carrier busy

    Since winning a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album in 2011, Chubby Carrier's schedule has filled up. But he is thrilled to be able to return to Joplin.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Scratch this off your list

    Missouri voters will go to the polls on Aug. 5 and consider a measure that would create a new lottery ticket devoted to helping fund the Missouri Veterans Commission.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oklahoma appellate court upholds class-action status in lawsuit filed by Picher residents

    An appellate court this week upheld a 2013 lower court ruling permitting class-action status for a lawsuit brought by former residents of Picher, Oklahoma, against a Tulsa-based appraisal firm involved with the buyout.

    July 25, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting 2.jpg Cause sought for gunfight between patient, doctor

    Authorities are attempting to determine why a patient fatally shot a caseworker at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex and whether a psychiatrist who pulled out his own gun and wounded the patient had concerns about him.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014