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CKMC to cease in-patient services
Facility to change name as part of new mission
new deh ckmc changes pic
Central Kansas Medical Center will soon stop providing in-patient care and change its name to St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

In response to changes in the health care landscape, in the near future, Central Kansas Medical Center will cease providing in-patient care to focus solely on out-patient services, hospital officials said Monday.

As part of the conversion, CKMC will become St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center, harking back to the facility’s founding in 1903 by the Dominican Sisters as St. Rose Hospital.

"The whole model of health care is changing," said Tom Fitz, CKMC’s interim chief executive officer. "CKMC is no different."

According to the American Hospital Association, outpatient visits are up 200 percent and inpatient days are down 28 percent in the past 25 years. CKMC, with 99 licensed beds, averages fewer than eight patients staying overnight per day and 80 percent of all services currently provided at CKMC are outpatient services.

The new Surgery Center will retain an emergency room, although it will be called urgent care, which will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A facility has to be a hospital in order for it to be called an ER, said Mark Mingenback, CKMC’s executive director of business development.

In addition to the urgent care, it will offer surgery, cancer services, physician clinics, imaging, laboratory services, outpatient therapies, home health care and hospice, and a sleep lab. It will operate in two locations, the Heartland Cancer Center and the CKMC campus.

However, there will be no obstetrics, in-patient rehab or intensive care unit.

Should a patient requiring urgent care need to be admitted overnight, the patient would be transferred to Great Bend Regional Hospital, Clara Barton Hospital in Hoisington or, if necessary, on to a Wichita facility. Fitz said only 8-13 percent of ER patients require overnight treatment.

The newly reconfigured Surgery Center will be housed in the first two floors of the CKMC building and the new laboratory wing. Doctors who are now located off-site will move to these locations. These facilities will be upgraded.

Between part- and full-time personnel, CKMC employes 325 people. "There will be layoffs," Mingenback said. "There is a deep concern among our employees, and an uncertainty among all of us about our futures."

The size of the staff reduction remains unknown. It will likely include anyone connected with in-patient care.

However, "we want to insure access to health care, make sure that health care is of the highest quality and maintain the financial sustainability of the ministry," Fitz said. This required changes.

About six months ago, the CKMC board hired Fitz’s company, Inside Health Partners out of Georgia upon the recommendation of Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives, CKMC’s non-profit parent company. The goal was to develop a strategic plan to curb continued operating losses.

"It was not enough to make up for the shortfall," Fitz said. More drastic measure had to be considered since the losses were unsustainable.

Looking at Barton and Pawnee counties, Mingenback said there were too many hospital beds and not enough patients. They found a duplication of services. "We decided to invest our capital where it would more effective."

Since the 20 percent of the business that was in-patient accounted for 80 percent of the expenditures, it was a logical place to cut. Instead, the Surgery Center will expand tele-medicine opportunities and home-health care.

Staff members and physicians were told about the change Monday. CKMC will meet with community, government and civic leaders, local physicians and Great Bend Regional Hospital over the next several weeks to discuss its plans. All regulatory agencies have also been notified.

"We are excited by our new focus," said Ron Vratil, CKMC board chair. "Just as the Dominican sisters responded when the Great Bend community asked for a hospital in 1903, we are responding today. Medical care and the needs of our community are different now, so we are transforming our health ministry to assure access to health care services for the Great Bend community now and tomorrow.

"We remain committed to providing high-quality, relevant and needed health care to the residents of Great Bend, and that’s why we have chosen to take our health care ministry in a new direction," Vratil said.

As for the old Allied Health Services Building, west of the main hospital, it was slated for demolition. However, there are preliminary plans to convert the structure into a rent-subsidized apartment building for seniors. There are talks under way to make this happen and to solve parking problems.