Claremore Daily Progress


June 7, 2011

St. John’s slates tentative time frame for rebuilding

JOPLIN, Mo. — The site and design for a new St. John’s Regional Medical Center are to be ready by December.

Gary Pulsipher, president of St. John’s, on Monday said that is the goal that has been set by Lynn Britton, president of Mercy Health System.

“If we can find a site, get the land purchased and the design ready, the board (of directors) of Mercy will act on that during its December board meeting,” Pulsipher said. “That means we could start turning soil in January.”

It is estimated that construction of the new St. John’s will take 2 1/2 years.

Pulsipher said a site search committee has been formed. He said the hospital has been contacted by about 50 people who have land for sale, including sites with up to 300 acres. He said it is likely that the new St. John’s will need about 70 acres, which is about the size of its existing property along McClelland Boulevard.

Pulsipher said it is unlikely that the new St. John’s will be built near its present site. He said it was a miracle that the May 22 tornado did not affect both St. John’s and Freeman Hospital West because of their proximity. He said there should be more distance between the two.

He said a demographic study, not unlike those used by retailers when they decide to locate in a community, will be used to help select a new site. The study will look at traffic flow and population trends, among other things.

He said residents of the community will be asked where they would like the new hospital to be and what kind of hospital they would like to see built.

In the meantime, St. John’s is operating out of a mobile medical unit east of the existing medical center. Pulsipher said the mobile hospital has 20 patients. More serious cases are being transferred to St. John’s Regional Health Center in Springfield and to Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Kan.

The mobile medical unit, Pulsipher said, will be replaced by a second-stage hospital within a few months.

“This will be a component hospital,” he said. “It will be made of structural steel. It will take four months to get it up and running. It will serve as our hospital for the 2 1/2 years that it will take to construct the new one.”

Pulsipher said a team from Joplin will travel to Riverside, Calif., where a component hospital is operating. He said the builder of that hospital could be the builder of the component hospital in Joplin.

St. John’s will continue to use the Holiday Inn Convention Center as its base of operations until next month. It hopes to have another office space located by then.

As for the old structure, Pulsipher said a decision about its demolition has not been made. He said it likely will be torn down. He said structural engineers have determined that some of the supports for St. John’s have been stressed.

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