McAuley, Mercy partner on biomedical science course

Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin, talks about how Project Lead the Way will help students develop new hands-on skills, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday at McAuley High School. Globe | Roger Nomer

Two longtime Mercy executives, Gary Pulsipher and Dennis Manley, will retire July 26.

Pulsipher has been president of Mercy Hospital Joplin for a decade. Manley, the chief nursing officer, has worked for Mercy and the previous St. John’s Regional Medical Center for 43 years.

“Health care has been a great career for me for 36 years,” Pulsipher said in a statement issued by the hospital on Wednesday. “It’s been an opportunity to work around amazing people; that’s the part that I’ll miss. I’ve worked really hard, but being able to retire and do some things that I’d like to do is exciting. It’s a new chapter.”

Pulsipher came to Joplin in November 2009 to take the helm of what was St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

Less than two years later, he led the hospital through the aftermath of the 2011 tornado that damaged St. John’s so extensively that it had to be demolished.

The hospital moved five times after that starting with a tent to treat patients and with its administrators vowing to rebuild.

A new Mercy Hospital Joplin was built in 46 months at 50th Street and South Main Street near Interstate 44. A transitional hospital where Mercy was located during that construction is now the Joplin campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences medical school at 2901 St. John’s Blvd.

Before coming to Joplin, Pulsipher was president of Breech Regional Medical Center in Lebanon, Missouri. While working in Lebanon, he also served as a regional vice president overseeing smaller hospitals in the Springfield area.

Manley began his career as a staff nurse. He then worked in intensive care before being promoted to nursing administration.

“There’s a lot of great people that work here at Mercy,” Manley said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with them and spend time with them, learning from the people here and being able to mentor, as well as being a mentee.”

Mercy has appointed its director of patient care services, Kelli Bigando, as interim chief nursing officer.

The appointment of an interim president is expected to be announced.

Mercy has recently cut six positions at its Joplin and Carthage hospitals; four of those in Joplin. A spokesman for the hospital said the retirements of Pulsipher and Manley are not related to the job cuts.

“Mercy, along with other health care providers nationwide, continues to be challenged by reduced reimbursement for the services we provide, especially from Medicare and Medicaid, which do not fully cover the costs of care. At the same time, we are experiencing high expenses for labor in an increasingly competitive job market, as well as rising costs for drugs and supplies,” Mercy said in a statement responding to questions about the job reductions.

Those affected by the cuts will receive outplacement services and a severance package based on the position and length of service, Mercy said.