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The following story was provided by Children’s Mercy.

Mark DeSchepper is among the construction workers building the Children’s Research Institute (CRI) tower with their hearts as well as their hands.

Mark is president of Echo GPR Services, Paola, Kansas, which uses ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology to scan (or “look”) into the concrete, producing high-resolution imaging that locates cables, conduit or other utilities before any drilling is done into the concrete. (The nine-story CRI tower is being built on top of the existing parking garage on the north side of the building).

Recently as he went about his work on the White Wagon level of the employee parking garage, Mark explained why this is more than just another job.

Mark DeSchepper at work on the White Wagon level of the employee parking garage as construction on the Children’s Research Tower proceeds, and his daughter Grace during a recent family vacation on Maui. (Grace loves wearing her Daddy’s hats!)

Grace shows off her artistic abilities.

Mark’s 3-year-old daughter, Grace, has been treated by the Children’s Mercy heart team through three surgeries.

“When Grace (who has Down Syndrome) had her open-heart surgery at 6 months of age in December 2014, we spent about two months in the PICU due to some unforeseen circumstances,” Mark said. “Grace had excellent care; my wife (Katie Beth) and I were blessed with the care the nursing staff provided while we spent many nights in the PICU. We’re still friends with some of our Critical Care Team on Facebook.”

He draws comparisons between the use of state-of-the art technology in construction and medicine.

Grace was a very sick little girl, undergoing three surgeries by the Children’s Mercy heart team.

“It’s pretty easy to draw parallels in what we are doing at Children’s Mercy on the construction project with our concrete scanning to what Dr. (James) St. Louis did to perform open-heart surgery on my daughter using X-rays, echocardiograms and other tests prior to surgery,” Mark said. “No surgeon would go in without first doing MRIs or CTs for planning, and the work my company is doing allows engineers, concrete workers, plumbers and electricians to do their work without damaging the existing building and causing problems such as electrical power outages.”

Mark added, “I’ve been working in this industry for 12 years and have scanned at every metro hospital in the area, but this project is the first one that I felt like I actually had a chance to work at ‘my hospital.’ When I heard about this project, I was hoping they would need some concrete scanning! I’m excited and couldn’t be happier to be a part of this. The hospital scanned my daughter in preparation for her surgery, and now I have the opportunity to scan the hospital as it’s building and growing.”

“I’ve been working in this industry for 12 years and have scanned at every metro hospital in the area, but this project is the first one that I felt like I actually had a chance to work at ‘my hospital,’” Mark DeSchepper says of the CM Children’s Research Institute tower project.

The fact that the CRI tower will be dedicated to research adds significance to this project for Mark, because it offers hope for the future of children like Grace.

“Children’s Mercy is already such a great hospital, and this project will put it on par with the best research hospitals in the country,” he said. “We keep up with advances in Down Syndrome treatment and Grace is only 3, so we hope she will benefit from discoveries made here.”

Situations that require parents to bring their children to a hospital are always difficult, Mark said, but that is outweighed by the thankfulness that the resource is available.

“My wife, my son and I have been blessed with good health…my daughter wasn’t. Grace’s condition was the first real hospital experience I’ve had to deal with in my life. You hope you never have to come here, but you’re happy that Children’s Mercy is here when you need it.”

Mark has great hope that the research conducted at the Children’s Research Institute will benefit children like Grace.