Mercy Hospital Joplin, Constructed by St. Louis-Based McCarthy,is Honored with National Healthcare Award


The 890,000-sq.-ft. replacement hospital set the standard in tornado readiness and continues
to influence building resiliency strategies.

Mercy Hospital Joplin earned the 2018 Vista Award from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association.

This national honor recognizes exceptional team collaboration and efficiency in designing and constructing the new $465 million, 205-room hospital after an EF-5 tornado demolished the original hospital in 2011. In addition to setting the standard in tornado readiness at the hospital level, the project was completed under budget and in less than half the time it would have taken for a comparable facility.

As construction manager, McCarthy Building Companies collaborated with architectural firms HKS, Inc. and Archimages, and MEP Engineer Heideman & Associates to design and construct the 890,000-sq.-ft. facility in an unprecedented 46 months.

“To meet the fast-track project schedule, McCarthy began construction just three months after starting design,” said McCarthy Project Director Ryan Felton. “We worked as a seamless team with our client located in Joplin and their corporate offices in St. Louis as well as our many consultants.”

The hospital includes a nine-story patient tower and five-story clinic tower. It houses units including medical surgical, critical care, women’s/children’s (labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms), neonatal intensive care, behavioral health and rehab.

Prefabrication enabled McCarthy to accelerate the construction process. Headwalls and restroom walls for all patient rooms were constructed in a warehouse and installed later in the construction process. 

The hospital also incorporates numerous resiliency elements to help withstand another natural disaster and provide a safe environment for patients, staff and visitors.

“The team used lessons learned from the disaster and experience working in coastal regions to design and build a safer, more secure facility,” said Norman Morgan, AIA, Principal-in-Charge, HKS. “For example, we designed protected evacuation routes, incorporated high impact glass and protected critical systems throughout the hospital.”

Critical areas of the hospital, such as the emergency department and intensive-care unit, have windows rated to withstand 250 mph winds. High-impact, laminated glass was incorporated throughout the facility along with protected evacuation routes.

Connected to the hospital by a 450-foot underground tunnel is a 30,000-sq.-ft. central utility plant housing all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. To protect critical hospital systems, the utility plant was built halfway below ground to limit exposure to the elements. The generator system enables the hospital to operate for 96 hours if power is lost. To create ease of access to the new hospital, McCarthy also built new entrance ramps, exit ramps and interchanges for the Missouri Department of Transportation, as well as a new road leading up to the facility.

“This world-class facility really paved the way for healthcare facilities to incorporate resiliency,” Ryan Felton said. “Our team developed best practices that continue be emulated by others going forward.”

The Vista awards were presented at the 2018 International Summit & Technical Exhibition on Health Care Planning, Design & Construction (PDC Summit) in Nashville, March 25-28, 2018.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country – with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients. More information about the company is available online at or by following the company on  FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram and Google+.

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