St. John's Hospital to Rebuild by 2014
JOPLIN - As Joplin residents move forward with the rebuilding process, Mercy Health announced the site of the new St. John's hospital Wednesday.
Lynn Britton, Mercy CEO announced the 100-acre site is located about one mile south of the hospital's current spot. St. John's hospital was one of several buildings destroyed when an EF-5 tornado touched down May 22.
For the past few months, hospital workers have been treating patients in tent-like structures called, "Mobile Medical Units" or MMUs. While the tents offer a place to work, space is tight.
"It almost seems like you're in a cave because there's no windows. It's curved walls, so after a while, it probably does get a little old after a 12 to 18 hour shift," physician president Sean Smith said.
But doctors and nurses alike said they're excited to make the move to a new $950 million facility. Mercy Health said it expects to break ground by January, 2012 and open hospital doors by spring 2014.
"It's the shot in the arm that everyone needed. I think not only the community needed to hear, yes, here's firm plans that a hospital is being built," Smith said.
The new property backs up to Interstate 44, right along Main Street in the south part of Joplin. Site planners said the close proximity to the busy interstate allows the hospital to serve an even larger area. Now, all three surrounding states have easy access to the new site.
With increased traffic, comes more business and more development. The Main Street exit off I-44 is one of the least developed areas in all of Joplin. Chamber of Commerce president Rob O'Brian said the new hospital site could bring in much needed business to the area.
"This really becomes a defining development that really sets out a Main Street presence on Interstate 44," O'Brian said.
Once the permanent hospital opens in early 2014, more hospital employees will return to work. After the tornado took out St. John's main campus, Mercy added those employees they could no longer staff into a talent sharing pool to help out surrounding hospitals with increased patient volume.
"Especially in our part of the world, hospitals are big employers," St. John's hospital president Gary Pulsipher said. So that was one of the reasons we announced very early that we would stay in Joplin."