It may have been just one day, but Saturday, March 14, marked the culmination of a long journey home for Mercy co-workers in Joplin.
Despite years of turmoil and hardship, a celebration walk merged the old with the new and symbolized the rebirth of Mercy Hospital Joplin to co-workers and the community.
Exactly one week before the new hospital opened its doors, co-workers helped dedicate the St. John’s Mercy Memorial Garden at the new open air chapel at 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard (the old hospital property). Following the ceremony, most co-workers journeyed by foot together to the new hospital site, a 2.75 mile walk.
Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO, along with Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, then led a blessing ceremony at the new facility, followed by a co-worker picnic and tours. Special music was provided by the Mercy singers. A first mass and chapel blessing was simulcast to the cafeteria and conference center.
“This ceremony signified the transition our co-workers have made with us along the way,” said Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “From the tornado to today, we have been in five different facilities. Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and done the job they’ve been asked to do – even when some were out of the norm of what they had always done. We are finally getting back to normal, a new normal. It’s time to celebrate our resilience.”
The new building is nearly 900,000 square feet and will feature physician clinic space as well as a fully operational, high-tech hospital, emergency department and cancer center.
The new facility will officially open at 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 22. Ambulances will transfer patients from the temporary Mercy location to the new facility. The transfers are expected to wrap up by 2 p.m.
Mercy is the fifth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves millions annually. Mercy includes 35 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, three rehab hospitals and two orthopedic hospitals, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.