The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

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
May 2011 Joplin tornado
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    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

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    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

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    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

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