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Mercy Hospital officials release plans to develop old hospital site

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Old hospital Old hospital
Old hospital chapel Old hospital chapel
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New development New development
Mercy Hospital officials release plans to develop a part of land where the old hospital stood before the tornado.  Hospital officials say part of where the hospital once stood will soon be a place of reflection, free of many attractions that might be found in parks.

But there will still be special meaning to the development.

On a man-made hill where there's already respect, there will soon be a place to reflect.

"That has kind of been referred to, a lot of times, as the ground zero for the disaster," says Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert.

The hill is where Mercy Hospital stood before the tornado.

Joplin resident Richard Lutes says, "It's kind of hard to look at, after seeing it before and looking at it now, you know?"

"Instead of selling it off and making it into commercial property, we wanted it to be something that would be meaningful to the community," says Gary Pulsipher, President of Mercy Hospital Joplin.

Pulsipher highlights what will be called the Saint John's Mercy Garden.  It'll be developed on top of the hill, which is also the location of the old hospital's chapel.  

"And just be able to remember all the things that happened.  Remember not so much the storm, but just remember everything that has happened and how blessed we've been and how we've come through it," says Pulsipher.

The $1.4 million, nine acre development will include an open gazebo with a roof similar to the top of the old chapel.

Plans are specific, calling for Flaming Maple Trees.  They are hearty trees that Mercy officials say will be gorgeous in the Fall.  There will also be statues salvaged from the old hospital's grounds.

"There's just such a broad-based connection around the community for that particular part of town," says Mayor Seibert.

It may have been ground zero during a disaster.  But, of course, there were many days before May 22, 2011.

"We had a lot of people die in that old hospital, but we had a lot of births happen in that hospital.  We had a lot of comings and goings," says Pulsipher.

And through reflection on the land, care will continue.

"Joplin is a big place.  It needs a lot of help still," says Lutes.

Mercy Hospital will cover the cost of the development.  Hospital officials hope to have the project completed by March.

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