Joplin hospital takes shape two years after tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. - The Joplin tornado on May 22, 2011, hit one of the worst possible places. Six people were killed inside St. John's Medical Center, and now the building is completely gone.

A new hospital - now known as Mercy Hospital Joplin - is taking shape, rising from a hillside along Interstate 44. The steel frame is in place, and construction crews are now using a huge crane to install panels and enclose the structure.

"We're using all hardened exterior skin with precast concrete, brick, masonry, that'll all be reinforced," said John Farnen, executive director of Mercy strategic projects.

When the tornado hit the old hospital, parts of the roof were ripped off and the windows were blown out, exposing the inside to the outdoors.

Farnen said custom-built windows in the new hospital should withstand the force of a 15-pound object flying at 100 miles per hour. Additional power backups will keep the lights on during most any storm.

Farnen said the 251-bed, $450 million hospital is essentially designed with tornadoes in mind.

"Certainly this will survive and withstand a whole lot better than the original hospital did," Farnen said.

Mercy Hospital Joplin should be finished by March 2015.

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