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As Joplin Rebuilds, Admissions 'Strong'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 18, 2012

Eleven months after a deadly EF5 tornado gutted St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, a temporary "component" hospital has opened in the southwestern Missouri town.

The opening marks the latest step in a remarkable rebuilding effort for a city that was devastated in the May 22, 2011 storm that killed 142 people and left homeless thousands of people.

The new and interim Mercy Hospital Joplin is a $100 million, 150,000-square-foot blockhouse that is storm-hardened to withstand the 200 mph winds that shattered windows, ripped off the roof, and tore through the interior of the old hospital last May. The hospital includes heavy duty shatter-resistant windows and reinforced door frames that shelter interior corridors.

The new hospital is an impressive display of "Show Me State" gumption from the storm-hardened people of Joplin. Even as wind-tossed debris was still settling last May, Mercy Hospital had already established roadside triage. They moved to a 60-bed MASH-style field hospital within a week, and then to modular buildings, and then to the component hospital last weekend.

The component hospital will be used for three years while a 327-bed permanent hospital is built on a 100-acre site about three miles from the gutted hospital. The new hospital is the centerpiece of a $950 million rebuilding effort for Joplin's crippled healthcare services infrastructure.    

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