How Mercy Hospital Rebuilt After Destruction

Rebuilding and resiliency


On May 22, 2011, an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado tore into Joplin, Missouri, USA at 5:41 p.m. It destroyed St. John’s Regional Medical Center, the Mercy Hospital facility in the heart of the city. “There was so much that needed to be sorted out all at once,” recalls Lynn Britton, Mercy’s president and chief executive officer. “We had our workforce, co-workers and physicians to be concerned about—plus our patients and the broader community.” Two days after the catastrophe, Mercy leaders announced that 2,200 Joplin employees would stay on the payroll indefinitely as they worked to rebuild the hospital. That bold resolve stirred Joplin residents and businesses—and inspired a citywide recovery.

The unique role of a hospital

“FM Global recognized the magnitude of this loss and went to work immediately to resolve it to get us back on our feet,” says Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin. “It was a show of faith and a confidence builder, knowing they were going to be with us through the process of figuring out what we needed to do. Within a week, FM Global presented us with a significant down payment toward what the claim would ultimately cost, which was a meaningful sign of cooperation and concern. We quickly acquired a technologically advanced Army-style MASH unit and, within a week, the mobile hospital was fully operational.”

In January of 2012, Mercy broke ground at what would become the new Mercy Hospital Joplin campus. The state-of-the-art facility opened its doors in early 2015. “FM Global’s engineering services were vital to the development of the complex—we relied heavily on their expertise,” Pulsipher continues. “Their engineers draw from an expansive knowledge of companies all over the world and know the best way to design facilities.”

“The new hospital,” he adds, “is protected with storm-resistant features that include fortified safe zones, hurricane-rated windows in critical areas, a concrete and brick exterior, and numerous other improvements. We chose to apply unprecedented standards to areas where people can’t quickly escape, protecting all of our patients to the highest degree. It’s part of understanding the unique role of a hospital­—what it is, what it does and whom it serves.” 

"FM Global recognized the magnitude of this loss and went to work immediately to resolve it to get us back on our feet."

Gary Pulsipher, president, Mercy Hospital Joplin

Rebuilding and resiliency

The Mercy experience provides a constructive lesson for corporations—and municipalities—that are ravaged by natural disasters. Michael McCurry, Mercy’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, observes that ”the communities that make it back and don’t lose a lot of the population are those that immediately decide to rebuild. The longer you are in that no-man’s land and don’t know what you are going to do, the more likely it is that people resolve to move out of the community.” McCurry says he is proud of the role Mercy played in Joplin’s recovery—and is “grateful for our partnership with FM Global.”