JOPLIN, Mo.– Sixteen months after an EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin, taking 161 lives and injuring hundreds, area residents can feel a little more closure. The demolition of St. John’s Mercy Hospital is nearly complete, marking a significant step in the community’s recovery.
The iconic hospital sat on the Joplin horizon for more than 40 years. A center that used to symbolize birth, healing and hope soon became a sore reminder of the deadly May 22, 2011, tornado that a community was struggling to recover from.
Because of mines under the property, a quick implosion was not an option. So, after each floor was cleared of debris, interior walls and windows, several different wrecking balls were used to knock exterior walls away.
In this video, the hospital finally came down in one final pull after months of work leading up to that day.
Terry Wachter, vice president of mission, offered a prayer as the building came down.
“The Sisters of Mercy saw the need to serve the area’s mining community in its day, and this building outlined the path to state-of-the-art treatment for a full range of health concerns,” said Wachter. “For every child born here, we praise you. For every life touched by our service here, we have been blessed. For the opportunities to accompany those at the beginning and end of life, we are grateful. It is with appreciation that we release this place to a new purpose, and in gratitude we embrace a renewed future.”
The crews will continue to clear the foundation and surrounding concrete work over the next month.
Next step: Seeding and planting the dirt and the early construction phases of the memorial garden.
Mercy is caring for patients at Mercy Hospital Joplin and construction is underway at the new Mercy Hospital Joplin, which is expected to open in 2015. Earlier this summer, Mercy revealed plans for the old hospital grounds, which include an elementary school and a park.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.