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    Joplin Hospital Demolition Underway

    January 31, 2012; 1:05 PM ET
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    Debris is loaded on a truck near 25th and Jackson in Joplin, Mo., on Wednesday, June 15, 2011. A massive cleanup effort is underway in Joplin after a tornado destroyed much of the southwestern Missouri city on Sunday, May 22. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett)

    Demolition is officially underway at St. John's Mercy Hospital, after taking a devastating blow from the May 22 tornado that ravaged Joplin, Mo.

    The tornado pillaged the area, destroying the hospital, surrounding homes, businesses and schools and killing more than 160 people.

    "It was truly like a war scene. There was so much destruction and devastation. You could barely get down some roads," Gary Pulsipher, president of St. John's Mercy Hospital said.

    The demolition is slated to take six weeks, as officials ruled out the possibility of imploding the buildings. Beneath the hospital lay lead mines that date back 200 years.

    Despite the immense destruction from the tornado, some of the hospital was salvageable. Prior to demolition, which began on Sunday, officials dug through the wreckage for anything that survived the twister. Recovered memorabilia includes stained glass, marble, memorial plaques, bibles, artwork and a 4-foot-tall wooden cross that once hung in the emergency department waiting room.

    Many of the salvaged items will be relocated to the new hospital site which will be built roughly 3 miles from its former location.

    The new advanced care hospital will offer medical, surgical and critical care, labor delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms, neonatal and pediatric intensive care and cancer care. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

    "Eight months later, it's amazing to see the recovery. There are very few structures that haven't been attended to across Joplin. While we still have a long way to go, Joplin has made incredible progress," Pulsipher said.

    Photo of St. Johns Mercy conceptual design from prweb.com

    According to the site mercy.net, Mercy is now investing $1 billion in rebuilding the healthcare of the Joplin community. "Though the tornado took our hospital, it did not destroy our spirit," the site reads.

    Gifts are being accepted to the Rebuild Mercy Fund through the Mercy Health Foundation Joplin.

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