By Patrick Lowry
Hays Daily News
April 6, 2016
Not every community in Kansas is fortunate or large enough to have its own hospital. Some exist primarily because of local taxpayer support while others barely hang on as decreasing Medicare reimbursements take their toll.
Mercy Hospital in Independence shut its doors last fall, leaving the southeast Kansas community without a hospital for the first time in more than 100 years. Mercy was the 56th rural hospital nationwide to close in the past five years. Voters in Sheridan County just yesterday shot down a proposal to fund a $16.9 million renovation of the Hoxie facility.
In short, no city or town should take its medical center for granted. With state and national policy decisions having dramatic effects on healthcare facilities, not every hospital can be assured of its continued existence.
Residents of Hays are blessed not to have to worry about such trends. Having one of the state’s strongest regional hospitals providing quality care and serving as the city’s top employer, HaysMed is here to stay. The hospital, which had more than 300,000 clinic and outpatient visits last year and generated more than half-a-billion dollars in total patient revenue, is going strong.
The medical center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this Friday. To fete its silver milestone, HaysMed will have a come-and-go celebration from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that the public is encouraged to attend.
There is a lot to celebrate. In 1991, St. Anthony Hospital and Hadley Regional Medical Center were merged to provide one unified option for patients.
“The merger combined two great hospital cultures that facilitated growth in all areas of health care,” said Ken Beran, HaysMed board member and past chairman, in an interview with The Hays Daily News.
Since then, the facility has done nothing but grow — both in size and scope of services offered. Licensed to have 207 beds, the Hays campus features several well-reputed centers of excellence. Amongst others, the DeBakey Heart Institute, Dreiling/Schmidt Cancer Institute, Center for Health Improvement and Hays Orthopedic serve patients from throughout western Kansas and beyond. HaysMed has its Convenient Care Clinic — currently operating at the Oak Park Medical Complex — as well as the St. Rose Health Center in Great Bend and Pawnee Valley Community Hospital in Larned.
HaysMed is one of the region’s top economic drivers. With 1,544 employees system-wide, payroll for the past fiscal year alone was $80.5 million. Looking at just the Hays center, approximately $90 million has been invested in new construction and renovations since the merger. Add in capital purchases of specialized equipment and that number jumps to $150 million.
Investment extends to highly qualified specialists as well. HaysMed has 80 physicians and more than 100 advanced practice providers to help people be healthy.
“We are absolutely continuing every day to understand this dynamic industry we’re in and make bold and innovative decisions going forward,” said Dr. John Jeter, HaysMed president and chief executive officer.
We are grateful this hospital is committed to making Hays and the surrounding area a better place in which to live. HaysMed continues to earn its keep 24/7. Community members who wish to acknowledge the significant contributions this medical facility has made for 25 years should attend the celebration Friday. Visitors are encouraged to park in the lot on the southeast side of the hospital. T-shirts, box lunches and a walk around the fitness trail will follow the opening remarks.