As Joplin marks the second anniversary of the devastating tornado that took more than 160 lives, people around the Ozarks are looking back at all that was lost and all that has been rebuilt.
The then-St. John’s Regional Medical Center suffered a direct hit from the tornado. Co-workers and volunteers evacuated 183 patients from the badly-damaged facility. When morning finally came, a good portion of the city looked like a war zone.
That facility is now gone, and a new Mercy Hospital Joplin is rising along Interstate 44. The lessons learned during the tornado are evident in about $11 million in upgrades specifically designed to harden the hospital against natural disasters. The advances include strengthened windows, reinforced refuges on each floor, and protected power running from two sources.
To commemorate what was lost during the May 22 tornado, and to celebrate how far the Joplin community has come, co-workers at Mercy Hospital Lebanon put together a photo collage using images captured by local photographer, Stacy Godwin. They presented the collage to Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin, who served as the hospital president in Lebanon before moving to his current position.
“The pictures are of graffiti created after the tornado, which helped inspire the community to keep going,” explained Mike Gillen, president of Mercy Hospital Lebanon. “We hope this will remind our co-workers in Joplin just how much they’re capable of, as long as they keep dreaming, hoping and believing.”