Two health care approaches seen

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March 13, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Members of the Allen County Hospital advisory group compared new and remodeled hospitals in Wilson County Tuesday afternoon.
At Neodesha, they saw an all-new Wilson County Medical Center that cost $15 million to build and equip. At Fredonia Regional Hospital they found a complex with new patient rooms and support facilities attached to a remodeled older hospital that contains a surgical suite, offices and outpatient clinics. Cost of the new part was $10.75 million.
The tours were part of the advisory group’s mission to study hospital models in preparation for their recommendation to Allen County commissioners as to whether a remodeled or a new Allen County Hospital would be better.

NEODESHA’S new hospital opened Feb. 20, 2008. The single-story building has 43,000 square feet and replaces a three-story structure built 85 years ago. The hospital is a mile west of downtown near the intersection of highways 75 and 400. Forty-two acres of land were acquired for its construction and provide more than sufficient space for expansion to the 15-bed critical access hospital, which has 110 employees.
Bonds are being retired with revenue generated by the hospital. A foundation raised about $2.3 million ahead of construction, including $1 million from one family. All employees were among those who contributed to the capital campaign.
“We looked at updating what we had but feasibility studies showed we obviously needed to build a new hospital,” said Susie Olson, human resources director. “Before construction started, we made more than 50 presentations to get people on board.”
The publicity effort ranged throughout Wilson County, including Fredonia, she said.
Four local physicians funnel patients to the hospital, which is noted for its wound treatment center. The center has two of the state’s five hyberbaric chambers which accelerate the healing of wounds through the use of oxygen.
The treatment is of particular value in advanced cases of diabetes, as well as for wounds from accidents.
Julie Quanstrom, public relations director, recalled a case in which a local factory worker had several toes crushed. The toes were saved, doctors said, because of being treated in a hyberbaric chamber.
“The wound center draws patients from a 90-mile radius,” Quanstrom said.
It is of note that the Iola hospital in on track to open its own wound center.
The Neodesha hospital is owned by the county and managed by Quorum Health Resources, Wichita.

FREDONIA’S hospital, a 25-bed critical access facility, is about 15 miles from Neodesha’s. It is owned by the city and managed by Great Plains Health Alliance, also headquartered in Wichita.
Terry Deschaine, hospital administrator, said no effort was made to merge the two hospitals even though the two communities faced similar decisions at approximately the same time. The two hospitals serve a county population of about 10,000, including 2,800 in Neodesha and 2,600 in Fredonia. Neither hospital offers obstetrical care.
The Fredonia hospital opened in 1949 as one of three operated by the Sisters of Mercy — others are in Fort Scott and Independence — and remained under that umbrella until 1985, when it was transferred to the city for a token price of $1.
Health Corporation of America, which manages Allen County Hospital, operated the Fredonia facility the first three years it was under the city’s control. Great Plains has managed it since. Local financial support comes from a one-cent city sales tax that raises about $450,000 a year.
The complex sits on 30 acres at the east edge of Fredonia. Renovation of the existing hospital occurred in 1990. Additional remodeling was done in 2000, before infrastructure and design concerns led the city to float a 30-year $10.75 million revenue bond issue. The new portion of the hospital, containing 26,000 square feet, opened Oct. 13, 2008.
“We spent months figuring out what to do,” Deschaine said, before deciding on how to blend services between the old and the new.
The hospital also operates a branch of the Wilson County Ambulance Service from a nearby building; firefighters operate ambulances in Neodesha. A doctors’ clinic is nearby; in Neodesha one is attached to its hospital.
Three doctors, including two recently recruited, and two physician’s assistants practice in Fredonia.
The hospital has 130 employees and active auxiliary and foundation members. Deschaine said he asked auxiliary members to raise enough money to buy flat screen television sets for the 25 new patient rooms when construction was under way.
“They raised more than enough, $18,000, well before we were ready to install the TVs,” he said.

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