With a line of ambulances assembled before dawn, Mercy began moving patients from its hospital at 2807 St. John’s Blvd. to its new facility at 100 Mercy Way.
The 7 a.m. move was four years in the making after an EF5 tornado destroyed the old St. John’s Regional Medical Center on May 22, 2011. Since the storm, Mercy co-workers have provided care in several facilities, including a tent hospital, portable buildings and finally a modular facility. This patient move officially opens Mercy’s new 890,000-square-foot hospital and clinic facility at 100 Mercy Way.
Brandie Stuhlman was the first patient to move. Within the hour, her babies were delivered by C-section. “I was really hoping they would wait to come. I didn’t want to be transferred somewhere else, I wanted to have them at the new hospital if they would just hold out a little longer, and they did!”
The son and daughter of Brandie Stuhlman and Kelton Neale each weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces at birth. Baby boy Merrick was born at 8:09 a.m. and baby girl Isabella was born at 8:10 a.m. Not only are they the first babies to be born at the new Mercy Hospital Joplin, they’re also the first to take advantage of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Designed with the comfort of families in mind, the babies will be in a private room with plenty of space for their parents.
“It was crazy to be the first patient to arrive at the hospital, first Mom to deliver and the first family to be in the NICU.”
In all, Mercy transferred 79 patients from the facility at St. John’s Boulevard. By 11 a.m., they were safely settled into their new, all-private rooms.
“We’re so proud of all of our co-workers who helped make this transition seamless for our patients,” said Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “We’ve been dreaming of this day for four years and planning for the logistics of the move for more than a year. We even did two practice runs recently to ensure everything would go smoothly.”
The new emergency department opened at 6 a.m. Before 10 a.m., providers had already seen 10 patients. “We’re able to offer the same great care – now in this beautiful new facility,” said Dr. Sean Smith, medical director for Emergency Medicine at Mercy Hospital Joplin and Mercy Hospital Carthage. “I’ve been accused of having a permanent grin on my face that won’t come off this morning.”
The new $465 million complex was built in less than half the time expected to complete a construction project of its size. With lessons learned from the 2011 tornado, it is hardened against storms including reinforced glass and safe zones on every floor. The hospital features 205 all-private inpatient rooms as well as doctor’s clinic offices. Cancer patients have their own designated entrance and access to the most advanced linear accelerator for radiation therapy.
From its temporary facilities to its new permanent home, Mercy’s commitment to the Joplin community and its co-workers totals more than a $1 billion. It included the promise that all co-workers would remain on the payroll; many have been working in other locations across Mercy’s four states.
“Today, our message is clear,” said Pulsipher. “Our new doors are open to our community, and we are ready to serve your families. And for our co-workers: we’re so happy to have you come home.”
Read more about Mercy Hospital Joplin:
Co-workers Journey to New Mercy Hospital Joplin
Community Gets Glimpse Inside New Mercy Hospital Joplin
Mercy Hospital Joplin Built to Stand Against Nature
New Hospital Brings Co-Workers Home
Technology-Packed Hospital Opening in Joplin
Joplin Tree-Planting Project Earns Statewide Award