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As Joplin Rebuilds, Admissions 'Strong'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 18, 2012

"We didn't put anybody there that wasn't clinical. My office is not going to be in that hospital," he says. "Virtually all of our support services are going to continue to be distributed throughout the community. It was too expensive to build that hospital for all those support services as well."

With widespread and violent storms becoming an annual spring rite in the Midwest, Pulsipher says more rigorous building standards may be needed for new hospitals in the region. He says the $500 million Mercy hospital that will open in 2015 will spend an additional $15 million on storm-hardening.

"In California they do a much better job with earthquake codes than we do around here," he says. "So I think we will, in our part of the world, see new buildings become more storm-hardened and ready to take on those kinds of challenges."

In addition, staff at Mercy regularly drills for tornado emergencies. "We just let the patients know it is a drill, and we try to do it on sunny days so that nobody is worried," Pulsipher says. "That happens in just a few minutes and they take the patients to the corridors. There are some patients who are so fragile that we plan to just keep them in their rooms and make the precautions there."

Pulsipher says the rebuilding at Mercy has been particularly satisfying because it is moving in step with the rebuilding of storm-ravaged Joplin. "Our city has been very aggressive in making sure we get rebuilt and also working closely together," he says. "We have had a Community Advisory Recovery Team that has pulled together all segments and I have been very active on that. We have a community master developer that the community has hired to make sure we grow in an intelligent way together."

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