Mercy to Operate McCune-Brooks Hospital

December 2, 2011

McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Mo.

Mercy will begin operating the 52-bed McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Mo., on Jan. 1, 2012, strengthening health care services to area residents in the aftermath of the tornado that hit nearby Joplin on May 22. The announcement follows a recent unanimous vote by the Carthage City Council.  

McCune-Brooks and Mercy formed a partnership after St. John’s Mercy Hospital in Joplin took a direct hit from an EF5 tornado. Health needs related to the tornado doubled the Carthage hospital’s patient load. In response, Mercy financed a $1.8 million gift to expand the city-owned hospital from 25 to 52 beds, and provided staff and equipment to add a third surgery suite.

Under the 50-year lease agreement, Mercy will make payments of about $3 million a year to pay off the $40 million in debt remaining from the hospital’s construction, plus an additional $250,000 in annual payments. Mercy will also invest $20 to $30 million to improve services in Carthage which will include extending its sophisticated electronic health record (EHR) system to the hospital, enabling the sharing of patient information among multiple Mercy hospitals and physician offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Mercy’s EHR allowed the medical records of 183 patients at the Joplin hospital to remain intact and immediately available after the tornado.

Paul Johnson, 78, of Joplin, knows all too well how technology translates to medical care. Johnson had been hospitalized with pneumonia for two days when Mercy’s Joplin hospital was hit by the tornado. As patients were transferred, Johnson expressed his desire to go to Mercy’s sister hospital in Springfield, Mo., knowing his electronic records would be easily accessible.

“I knew they would want to know my medications, dosages and what tests had been done, and I knew I couldn’t remember all of it,” he said. “The doctors in Springfield were able to pull up my records and ask me questions. It worked out beautifully.”

In addition to an EHR, Mercy will provide Carthage residents access to MyMercy, a free online personal health record that gives patients the ability to track health history, see lab results, schedule appointments, contact a doctor and renew prescriptions via a personal computer or smart phone.

Mercy also plans to engage Carthage residents in a community master planning process that has been conducted in other Mercy communities. In addition to increasing convenience and access to care for patients, Mercy will employ all McCune-Brooks co-workers. Because of an earlier talent sharing program between McCune-Brooks and Mercy, nearly 130 St. John’s Mercy Joplin co-workers have been working at the Carthage facility since June.

“Mercy has long been committed to southern Missouri,” said Gary Pulsipher, president of St. John’s Mercy in Joplin. Pulsipher points back to 1885 when the Sisters of Mercy first provided much needed health care to local miners. Those efforts continue today, as evidenced by Mercy’s commitment in Joplin, including:

  • An integrated electronic health record that preserved sensitive patient information and was instantly available after the tornado
  • A 60-bed field hospital, a tent-like structure, up and running within one week of tornado
  • A transition to the current hard-sided modular facility that replaced the field hospital in August
  • A component hospital by spring 2012 which allows St. John’s Mercy to regain its Level II Trauma Center designation and further increase available beds to the community
  • A promise to keep all Joplin co-workers on the Mercy payroll

“There was never a thought to close down and walk away,” said Pulsipher. “In fact, Mercy immediately pledged to keep more than 2,000 St. John’s Mercy co-workers employed. That’s the kind of commitment that makes me proud to be Mercy. Mercy is about partnering with communities to provide the best health care possible. Mercy has built a reputation of strengthening services in our communities, providing support and continuing to provide patient care close to home. It’s our mission.”

Bob Copeland, CEO of McCune-Brooks, couldn’t agree more. “The same type of commitment Mercy has shown in Joplin will strengthen our facility, bringing many tangible benefits to our community and the surrounding area,” said Copeland. “The culture of care at McCune-Brooks coupled with Mercy’s technology, determination and commitment will undoubtedly be a winning combination for area residents and we are looking forward to getting started.”

Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 30 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,500 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit

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