Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Joplin's "tornado-proof hospital" a model for the future
Mercy also worked with a manufacturer to create specially designed windows. In the lobbies, they're rated for 110 mile-per-hour wind. The strongest ones are in the ICU, and can withstand 250 mile-per-hour wind. They're also covered in a plastic laminate film.
"That glass will not break up into shards and kind of fly around," (Mercy's Executive Director for Strategic Projects John) Farnen said.
Inside, there are hurricane-rated doors, each floor has a fortified safe zone with reinforced walls and ceilings and stairwells and critical life support systems have battery backups.
The new hospital also has crucial supplies stashed away in places on every floor in the facility, like shovels and crowbars, in case they're needed to clear debris from hallways.
Above ground, the new hospital is impressive. Below ground there's an impressive investment in another part of the project.
Underground, 20 feet underground, a tunnel runs one and a half football fields, and connects the hospital to its physical plant. The bunker protects all critical utilities, like electric lines and communications, which were all wiped out in the 2011 tornado.
"We actually have two sources of normal power, one from the north and south. So if we actually get hit from either side, we still have all the power we need from the other direction," said Farnen.
The tornado-proof construction added $11 million to the project.