Less than a week after Mercy Hospital Joplin moved patients to a new $465 million facility, plans are being made to turn the old building into a medical school.
Mercy constructed the temporary hospital at 2807 St. John’s Blvd. three years ago at a cost of $100 million, after the May 2011 tornado destroyed the old building. Plans now call for donating the temporary hospital to Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences’ (KCU) College of Osteopathic Medicine for a new medical school campus.
“We’re now in our beautiful new facility, but there’s a lot of use left in the building we called ‘home’ for three years,” said Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “We wanted to find a way it could still serve the community, and this donation enables us to repurpose it as a place of learning for the next generation of doctors. The entire region will benefit from the addition of highly-trained physicians to support the health care needs of our communities.” The 150,000 square-foot facility and property are currently valued at $5.5 million. Mercy is awaiting final approval of the donation from the Vatican.
KCU is the largest medical school in Missouri and 10th largest medical school in the country. It recently received approval from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation to develop the new medical school campus in Joplin. The new space will allow an additional 150 students to take advantage of the KCU medical program each year. The development of the KCU College of Osteopathic Medicine Joplin campus will be a collaborative effort involving Mercy Hospital Joplin, Freeman Health System, the city of Joplin and philanthropic leadership from the surrounding community.
“The expansion of KCU to an additional location marks a significant moment for our University, and an opportunity to help address the rural health care needs for Missouri and the region,” said Marc B. Hahn, D.O., president and chief executive officer, KCU. “As the second leading educator of physicians for Missouri and Kansas, and with nearly 40 percent of our graduates practicing medicine in rural areas, this was a logical decision for us.”
The Joplin community and its medical providers, through the Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance (JRMSA), have demonstrated strong support for this project by pledging $30 million to assist in the development of the Joplin campus. “I’m very thankful KCU chose the Joplin area for this new campus,” said Rudy Farber, chairman at Community Bank & Trust. “This expansion will have a huge positive effect on the area, including an economic impact of more than $100 million once fully operational. By partnering with KCU, we will be working will a fully accredited institution with a long history of success. This partnership will reduce the time it would take to open a new school by several years. In short, this is a wonderful opportunity for all concerned.”