Mercy Co-workers Pave the Way for Fitness Park

September 15, 2014

Plans for the park & a look at the land before construction

Patients, families and co-workers will soon have another excuse to get up and move when they’re visiting Mercy Hospital Lebanon. On Monday, Sept. 15, ground was broken on the new Mercy Fitness Park in front of the hospital’s main entrance – but it’s not your typical project.

“Nearly two years ago, Mercy co-workers decided they wanted to help pay for a new track,” said Kim Plake, chair of the MercyWay employee giving committee. “We pledged $100,000 through donations and payroll deductions, and today we’ve reached the halfway point.” The end goal: a much-needed, 8-foot wide, quarter mile asphalt walking trail.

“The way this campus is built, there really isn’t a good area to walk outside,” said Bill Shumate, director of engineering and maintenance. “The hospital sits atop a hill and there are no sidewalks along the streets, so some people were getting anxious to move around.” Over the last few years, crews have been clearing stumps and brush from heavily-wooded area, leaving big oak trees for the new track to wind through.

“We weren’t only thinking about ourselves with this fitness track,” added Plake. “We realized caregivers and family members needed more places to go and get fresh air, relax or get their blood flowing.” The new track, scheduled to open by November, will include a parking lot for six vehicles, a donor sign and places to stop and relax.

“There really aren’t any parks like this on this side of town,” Shumate added. “It will be open during the day and anyone in the community is certainly welcome to come.” Mercy is leasing part of the land from the Missouri Department of Transportation, along the right-of-way. Cochran, an architectural firm based in Camdenton, Mo., provided the park’s design; Willard Asphalt was tapped to lay the trail. There are plans to add a pavilion, benches and a crosswalk in future phases of the project.

The ceremony also marks the beginning of this year’s MercyWay campaign. “It’s easy for us to do this because everyone is so giving. We all love to give back,” Plake added. “At one point we saw as many as 75 percent of co-workers giving to this campaign, so we’ll reach our goal very quickly.”

To make a pledge, call Karen Simpson-Neasby at (417) 533-6192 or visit