Mercy to donate modular hospital building for Joplin, Mo.'s, first medical school

May 15, 2015


Mercy will donate a temporary hospital constructed in Joplin, Mo., after a May 2011 tornado for use as a medical school campus. The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine plans to accept an additional 150 medical school students per year at the new Joplin campus in the southwest Missouri community beginning in 2017.

Mercy is donating this hospital in Joplin, Mo., made of 224 modular units, to the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine for its new medical school campus in southwest Missouri.

Mercy constructed the temporary hospital, made up of 224 modular units welded together, after its St. John's Regional Medical Center was irreparably damaged by a May 22, 2011, tornado that resulted in 161 deaths in the Joplin region, including five critically ill patients and a hospital visitor.

In March 2015, Mercy opened its permanent replacement hospital, the $465 million Mercy Hospital Joplin, paving the way for the donation of the temporary hospital. The temporary 150,000-square-foot facility was built by Mercy at a cost of about $100 million. Mercy Hospital Joplin Chief Financial Officer Shelly Hunter explained those costs included expenses related to preparing the property including excavation, building a central utility plant, transporting and setting up the modular units and equipment costs, including medical equipment, furnishings and cafeteria equipment. Mercy has repurposed equipment from the temporary hospital to use at the new hospital in Joplin and elsewhere. This includes, for example, the magnetic resonance imaging machine, other technology and many of its furnishings, Hunter said.

Mercy's donation of the building and land to the medical school has a value of $5.5 million, according to a fair market assessment. The Chesterfield, Mo.-based Mercy system is seeking Vatican approval of the donation.

The development of the new campus will be a collaborative effort including Mercy Hospital Joplin, the Joplin-based Freeman Health System which includes three hospitals, the city of Joplin and philanthropic support. Community members and medical providers have pledged $30 million to help with the development of the Joplin medical school campus, through an organization called the Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance. The medical school will be the first in Joplin. Lisa Cambridge, director of university relations for Kansas City University, said students studying on the Joplin campus will complete their first two years of medical school there, then complete two years of clinical clerkships at Joplin-area locations or elsewhere.

Gary Pulsipher, president and chief executive of Mercy Hospital Joplin, said in a statement that there's a lot of use left in the building that served as the hospital's "home" for three years. "We wanted to find a way it could still serve the community, and this donation enables us to repurpose it as a place of learning for the next generation of doctors."

Kansas City University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, which already is the largest medical school in Missouri and one of the largest in the nation, says the Joplin campus will be the first medical school location to open in Missouri in more than four decades.


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