Mercy/St. John's workers share a moment of release at Downstream Casino near Joplin. (Photo by Aaron DuRall)
About 2,000 Mercy co-workers gathered Sunday, June 12, 2011, at the Downstream Casino Resort near Joplin for a time of healing and hope as St. John's and Mercy leadership honored the courage and stamina of co-workers and physicians in Joplin for their action in the face of disaster. Many of those in attendance had not yet reunited since a tornado ripped through Joplin and destroyed the hospital and some physician buildings. More than 100 co-workers lost their homes in the devastating storm that ravaged Joplin on May 22.
Mercy President / CEO Lynn Britton reiterated his promise to keep all 2,200 co-workers on the payroll and shared a timeline for moving out of the field hospital into a temporary hospital, noting components for that facility could be arriving the coming week. He showed renderings of what a new permanent state-of-the-art facility might look like and promised to break ground on it by January 2012. His comments were met by a cheering crowd that overflowed from a tent where he appeared live, into an adjoining facility watching the program on a large video screen.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was also on hand to promise continuing state and federal support as Mercy rebuilds its ministry, noting its roots that go deep in the Joplin community. The governor received a standing applause for his support.
St. John's Mercy Hospital president Gary Pulsipher concluded the program with a reading from a scripture from John 15. A Bible in the hospital chapel had survived the storm, perched perilously on a podium, blown open to the page containing the scripture:
"This is my commandment. Love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. I command you: love one another."