News Conference - "We will Rebuild"

May 25, 2011

At a news conference held this morning in Joplin near the site of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Mercy President and CEO Lynn Britton and St. John’s President Gary Pulsipher pledged to the community that Mercy will rebuild.

“The Sisters of Mercy came to this community in 1885 and opened the hospital in 1896. They’ve been through hard times before – perhaps nothing quite on the magnitude of this – but our commitment to Joplin remains strong,” said Britton.

Britton shared plans for a 60-bed mobile hospital that he said will be in place by Sunday in Joplin, offering a full array of services including emergency, surgery, imaging, lab and inpatient care. It will be able to withstand 100 mile-per-hour winds.

Longer-term plans for the hospital are being discussed, and a board meeting will be held this week to continue the planning effort.

Pulsipher spoke about Mercy’s commitment to the 2,800 Mercy co-workers in Joplin. A command center has been established to provide information and assistance to co-workers. Many co-workers will be needed to carry on the work of Mercy in the community, and positions will be available to some co-workers at other Mercy hospitals and clinics in the surrounding area.

“We are committed to helping as many co-workers as possible continue with Mercy,” Britton added.

Dr. Sean Smith, president of Mercy’s physician clinic organization in Joplin, shared information about current sites of service that are open and operating, including Mercy Express Care and Mercy Clinic locations in Webb City, Carthage and Neosho. Physicians and other caregivers whose offices were damaged or destroyed are rotating through these locations, and plans are underway to find additional sites of service.

Mercy’s electronic health record system, which was implemented in Joplin less than a month ago, will go back online, connecting the mobile hospital and all Mercy sites of service.

Pulsipher said that a community event will be held in the near future, “to take a moment to reflect on the tragedy, honor our many heroes, and then turn our attention to the future.” Information about the community event will be announced soon.

The 370-bed hospital, which sustained significant damage, may not be salvageable, Pulsipher said. “Structural engineers have been examining the building for days, and we expect to receive a report this week,” he said. The new hospital might be built on a different site, he added.

Mercy has entered a new phase in Joplin, said Dr. Smith. “But we are stronger than ever,” he said.

It was estimated that more than 50 media outlets covered the conference.

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