In its 114-year history, Children’s Mercy Hospital has made a lasting impression on many Eastern Jackson County residents, even though the hospital had no site on this side of the metropolitan area.

In its 114-year history, Children’s Mercy Hospital has made a lasting impression on many Eastern Jackson County residents, even though the hospital had no site on this side of the metropolitan area.

Until now.

Hospital officials, Independence and Blue Springs civic leaders, a former U.S. senator, and yes, of course, children, broke ground Thursday morning on the new three-story, 55,000-square-foot Children’s Mercy East hospital near Interstate 70 and Little Blue Parkway. The facility is projected to open in 2013 and will join Corner Café and the soon-to-open Drury Inn and Suites in the Trinity Woods development.

Independence lawyer and businessman Ken McClain said he and his wife, Cindy, served as chairpersons of the Children’s Mercy East Fundraising Committee for three reasons. Children’s Mercy provides health care for children regardless of their ability to pay, and Eastern Jackson County should have the brand of Children’s Mercy in its jurisdiction, McClain said.

Lastly, the McClains’ second oldest child, Colin, experienced severe asthma as a child, “and it seemed like we were at Children’s Mercy’s emergency room more than we were at home,” Ken McClain said. “In fact, we spent one New Year’s Eve there ... Without the doctors and nurses at Children’s Mercy, I’m not sure that he would have made it.”   

In 2010, more than 22,000 children from Eastern Jackson County used services at Children’s Mercy. Existing Children’s Mercy locations include Hospital Hill and the Northland, both in Kansas City, and the South hospital in Overland Park, Kan., as well as clinics and outreach clinics.

“It’s been our vision to have a presence physically in all parts of the metropolitan area,” said Independence native Karen Cox, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer at Children’s Mercy. “Children’s Mercy East will finally complete that circle.”

Both Independence Mayor Don Reimal and Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross commented on the significance of the new hospital to Eastern Jackson County, with Reimal remarking, “We kind of like each other and like working together.”

Fundraising for Children’s Mercy East is ongoing. In February 2012, Children’s Mercy East will serve as the beneficiary from the Red Hot Night Gala. As part of a challenge grant, the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation will provide a $1 million gift if the hospital raises an additional $5.5 million by next April.  

Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, who secured $1 million in federal funding toward the planning and construction of Children’s Mercy East, also spoke on the importance of the nationally recognized Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics.

“Children are different. They’re not just small adults,” Bond said. “They have different needs, and they require different care. Day after day, Children’s Mercy provides the highest quality medical care to children, really, from all parts of this state.”