By Mercy's Nancy Hughson
When the final steel beam is hoisted into place at the official “topping out” ceremony at Mercy Hospital Joplin today, it will carry both an evergreen and one of the more than 400 saplings that originally grew on the site of the new hospital. This ceremony marks the symbolic completion of the building’s structure.
This single sapling, now potted, will travel to the roof along with an evergreen in a nod to a European tradition. Sending a tree to the top with the final beam in a building’s topping out ceremony is believed to bring good luck to both construction workers and the building’s eventual occupants. Ironworkers prize an evergreen as a symbol of no loss of life on a job. Mercy prizes this particular sapling as a symbol of coming home and renewed hope.
The sapling has been growing at a nursery in nearby Aurora – along with the others transplanted from the site before construction began – just waiting for construction to be finished so it could return to where it first took root. But this particular sapling has been tapped for an important honor.
“We are celebrating a new beginning,” said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO. “This sapling is a symbol of renewed life and hope for Joplin.”
Construction on the hospital is expected to be completed in spring 2015.
“Thanks to the talents of many people, including our construction partners, the new Mercy Hospital Joplin is becoming a reality day by day,” said John Farnen, executive director of strategic projects for Mercy. “The final steel beam that was hoisted today carried the signatures and best wishes of many Mercy co-workers.”
Today’s ceremony marks another step toward healing for Joplin.
“When the tornado roared through Joplin in May 2011, it was devastating to our community. Together, we have experienced a great deal of tragedy, but today is about celebrating and building toward a better future,” said Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “This is a tremendous milestone for all of Joplin.”
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,900 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.