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Kiowa County Hospital District Prepares for Future Health Care Facilities

By Betsy Barnett

September 19, 2023

In the last few months, a great deal of behind-the-scenes work has been going on at the Kiowa County Hospital District located in Eads. When new CEO Beth Bell arrived at the beginning of the year there was also a hospital board with several new members who tasked her to explore ways to improve the aging facilities and infrastructure within the district. This board believed that if they didn’t modernize and move to make significant improvements, they could possibly lose the clinic, hospital, and nursing home all together.

Bell is proving she is up to the challenge and is putting significant pieces together to present to the board, by the end of the year no less, her recommendations for moving the community’s healthcare services successfully into the future.

This week CEO Bell emphasized to the Independent that she needs the community to speak up now. Every person interested in not only keeping the health services in Eads but moving them to new, higher standards MUST RESPOND to this survey right away: survey at SurveyMonkey.com.

The current hospital, emergency facilities, and nursing home in Eads was first built in 1943 and new wings were added in the 1960s and 1970. The CT Unit facility was renovated five years ago prior to the pandemic. The Medical Clinic across the street from the hospital and nursing home facility isn’t as old as it was built in the 1980s.

Just prior to the pandemic, the Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation had gifted 10 acres of land to the Hospital District with the hope that someday a new medical facility could be built. The land is located on Lowell Street just east of the Prairie Pines Assisted Living Facility. It’s also just east of the current Flight-for-Life helipad. The 10 acres is the perfect spot for a two-phased project that may in the future be home to not only a new Medical Clinic, but also a new hospital and nursing home in Eads.

Phase One will be the building of a new medical clinic facility that will include physical therapy space and extensive space for specialty services in order to bring in providers such as dentists, chiropractors, and other specialty professionals. The new medical clinic will be built on the Lowell Street property with work beginning in 2024.

Bell detailed the plans, “We are already working on the architect design and construction documents for this project. This part of the project, Phase One, will be financed through the congressionally directed spending grant with some support from the hospital. We are still waiting for the final award letter, but we expect to hear back in November.”

If that money comes through the way Bell expects a new Clinic with modern and upgraded services will be built. But Bell emphasizes that it is of the utmost importance that ALL community members give input into what they’d like to see in a new, state-of-the-art medical clinic. Do you want access to a dentist or dental hygienist? Would you like to see an orthodontist come to Eads on given days? Would you like to see specialty dental services provided? How about seeing a dermatologist, heart specialist, eye doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist inside an effective therapy space? These are the ideas—the needs—Bell hopes the community will tell her what they want.

Bell emphasizes, “It’s vital for our grant and working with the consultants and planners that we have solid data to provide them that will back up the plans we develop. We will compile all survey responses and use it to make the final presentation to the board in December.”

TAKE THE SURVEY.

Bell then took the time to discuss Phase 2 in this multi-million dollar and multi-year project. Phase 2 is obviously the plan they will put in place for the hospital, emergency services, and nursing home.

There are two paths that can be taken in Phase 2—either the decision will be made to spend the money to renovate and update the current facility or build a new hospital and nursing home on Lowell Street alongside the new medical clinic.

Bell described the work that is being done in Phase 2, “Right now, we are engaged with a marketing and finance team, Wipfli, who is helping us to assess the healthcare market in our area. They are also helping to analyze our department capacity and the financial feasibility of this project. This really is the most important piece of the project when it comes to Phase 2, and it will determine whether we replace the hospital with a new facility on Lowell Street or complete renovations on the current facility.”

Bell added, “Once we have that information back, we will begin to look at several ways to fund Phase 2 of this project.”

Bell is on top of a number of funding opportunities and ideas in order to meet the costs required to complete Phase 2. First, she wants to maximize the support funds the facility already receives from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) through cost-based reimbursement utilizing facility depreciation.

Secondly, they will expand the RIGHT services to increase operating revenue. Bell says, “This is where the survey is key, right now so many people take their healthcare dollars outside of Kiowa County because they need services we don’t offer. I want to make sure our expansion plans align with what the community needs—and wants.”

Along that same line of thought, the hospital is working daily to improve community engagement in order to bring residents back to spending their healthcare dollars at the Eads facility. “There are services we offer now that aren’t fully being utilized, our hope is that folks will support the hospital and trust us with their care moving forward.”

Of course, the big piece to the puzzle will be grant funding for Phase 2 and Bell is well-adapted in that area and believes the funds are out there to complete the project.

If the community comes through and gives their input through the survey, Bell thinks the next 6-to-9 months will be insightful and informative on what the district’s next step will be as it comes to Phase 2.

“We are confident that we have the right team members in Wold and Wipfli to help ensure we gather all the right data and pull together several different options for the board of directors to consider. If a replacement facility is what’s decided, it could take 3-5 years before it’s finished. In my experience that’s a normal timeline.”

Whatever the Phase 2 decision is, replace or renovate, Bell says the Nursing Home facility is their number one priority and they will make every effort to maintain a facility with high standards of service. “It’s something we are most proud of, and feel is important to our community. We are excited to have the ability to offer an updated space that has more room, hopefully private bathrooms inside the rooms that are large enough for a wheelchair and lift. And the ability to get outside easier with more inviting spaces to host family dinners, parties, etc.”

Much more will be revealed to the community in December. But in the meantime, it is absolutely crucial that every person who needs or will need health care—that’s everyone—takes a few minutes of their time to fill out this very simple survey. Something so simple to do will help Bell and her team develop the very best healthcare system that can be available to the citizens of Kiowa County and well beyond our borders.

You, Dear Readers, have a very important assignment—hit that link right now and start the work for a much brighter future for all.

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