Joplin’s Mercy Hospital Rises from the Rubble

Here’s how a hospital in Joplin, Mo., is recovering from the massive tornado that struck two years ago.

Radio communications were wiped out because the repeaters, which were on the top of the hospital, had been destroyed. The generators were also rendered useless.

“We had two in the basement and two outside of the building,” says Bartz. “[The tornado] picked up the building and destroyed those two [generators] immediately. That building then ended up on top of the fuel and cooling lines of the two generators in the basement, so they ran for just a short period of time.”

Even the equipment that wasn’t directly damaged by the tornado couldn’t be salvaged.

“The CDC determined that everything was contaminated by a fungus, so it all had to be destroyed,” he says.

Mercy Hospital officials then decided that another structure, called the Walden Building, would need to be erected and would act as the temporary hospital until 2015 when the permanent structure is scheduled to be completed. Construction of the Walden Building began in September 2011, and hospital staff moved in April 2012.

Regular Meetings Keep Security Installation on Track

Because the Walden building needed to be erected right away, it was prefabricated in California and then assembled on site. Some of the trades worked 24/7 so that the building would be completed on time.

Related Article: Lessons Learned from the Joplin Tornado

Total Electronics, a Joplin-based low voltage integrator, which had been working with Mercy Hospital several years before the tornado, installed the security equipment. The integrator installed new video surveillance and access control systems, which included megapixel cameras, software and NVRs from 3xLogic; IQinVision cameras; RBH access control; HID proximity cards; Securitron magnetic locks and HES electric strikes. The systems were installed in the maternity ward, neonatal unit, lunchrooms, break rooms, parking lots, pharmacy, halls, stairwells, ambulance bays, helicopter pad and other outside areas.

Logistics, employee scheduling and getting the right parts at the right times were the biggest challenges for the Total Electronics, according to Tom Harlen, who is its estimator and project manager.

“We had a lot of other customers that were trying to get their businesses and schools up and running all at the same time, so our guys were stretched pretty thin,” he says.

That being said, Harlan credits the construction project’s regular strategic planning meetings as one of the reasons why everything went smoothly.

“We had progress meetings every week where representatives from the various trades and hospital were there,” he says. “If something were needed, they made those decisions very quickly.”

He also appreciates the help he received from his security equipment manufacturers.

“Brian Davis from 3xLogic came out and helped us put together design ideas for the hospital based on their need,” Harlan adds. “I like that we had support from our major manufacturers.”

Bartz, Wampler Offer Lessons Learned

Needless to say, with such a huge undertaking, Mercy Hospital officials have learned a lot of lessons on protecting a hospital before,
during and after a disaster:

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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