John Farnen, executive director, planning, design and construction (PDC), Mercy, Chesterfield, Mo., is extremely grateful that Mother Nature cooperated this past spring while the latest phase of the rebuilding of Mercy Hospital Joplin (Mo.) was completed. For the most part, the weather has been warm and dry, ideal for keeping construction on schedule and materials in optimal condition.
In all fairness, the weather gods owed one to Farnen, the staff at Mercy and everyone living in and around Joplin. The gods probably owe Joplin quite a few, actually.
May 22 will mark one year after a tornado largely destroyed the former St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin and leveled much of the town. The twister killed 153 persons, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1947.
Since that day Farnen and his PDC team, along with a battery of longtime construction and design partners, have been in a perpetual state of planning and rebuilding to ensure health care services would continue to be offered.
One week after the tornado hit, a field hospital comprising tents and several mobile trailers was up and running. Three months later, Farnen, his PDC team and partners completed construction of a portable hospital made of aluminum panels to help Mercy get through the winter as plans were made to build another temporary facility.
On April 15 patients were moved from the portable hospital to the new two-story 150,000-square-foot interim facility for Mercy Hospital Joplin, constructed of prefabricated 14-by-60-foot, 40,000-pound sections that were shipped by truck and rail to the site, says Farnen. Built in eight months, it's the first and largest modular acute care health care facility in the nation, he says.
The hospital is a fully code-compliant, steel and concrete structure. It includes 144 patient rooms, an intensive care unit, a fully functioning emergency department, four operating rooms, state-of-the art imaging equipment, labs, a pharmacy and more. A ceremony marking its opening was held April 11.
Meanwhile, foundation work has started on the new 900,000-square-foot, 261-bed permanent hospital that is scheduled for completion in March 2015. Plans also are under way to design and build a new behavioral health building and a rehabilitation facility, says Farnen.
"I look back at what's been accomplished in the past 10 months and it's been amazing how much has been done and that everybody's been able to keep their sanity," he says. He credits his general contractor partners with keeping work on schedule.
Ken Cates, principal, Northstar Management Co. LLC, St. Louis, a project management firm and longtime partner of Mercy involved in the rebuild project, says what's been achieved is a testament to the commitment of all involved —from top management to the workers in the field.
"It's really about the people. It always comes back to the people and their attitude and willingness to work together and follow through, and do what they said they would do," he says. "There was no room in this process for excuses."