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Local firms help fulfill Neal Patterson's rural health care legacy

December 12, 2017
  • Projects
As seen in the Kansas City Business Journal. Reported by Rob Roberts. (Dec 11, 2017)

Groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted Sunday in rural Harper County, Kan. — birthplace of late Cerner Corp. CEO and co-founder Neal Patterson — for a $41 million medical complex that will be part of his sweeping health care legacy.

The 62,500-square-foot Patterson Health Center, designed to offer a new model for rural health care delivery, was largely funded by Patterson, who died in July, through the Patterson Foundation.

Although the health center is being constructed in south-central Kansas, just north of the Oklahoma border, it involves a couple of Kansas City-area ties besides Patterson, who led development of North Kansas City-based Cerner (Nasdaq: CERN), one of the world’s largest health care IT firms.


The architect of record, Kansas City-based Gould Evans, is designing the facility in partnership with a team of medical planning consultants with Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater. Kansas City-based McCownGordon Construction LLC is construction manager, and Grand Construction of Kansas City is the owner's representative.


The project, which will consolidate health care facilities in the towns of Harper and Anthony, will anchor a new 60-acre health campus organized around community engagement and programmed to improve the health status of the entire county population.

The health center will include a 15-bed critical-access hospital, health clinic, physical therapy and rehabilitation center, and a wellness center. Other features will include a public café, community center, green space for community events, community garden and trails.

Located midway between Harper and Anthony, the health campus is expected to be completed in three or four phases, with the health center phase due for completion in the spring of 2019. At that point, Harper Hospital and Anthony Medical Center, both of which have both struggled financially in recent years and are currently licensed for 25 beds between them, are scheduled to close.

Despite a Harper/Anthony rivalry that dates to an 1870s fight over which town would become the county seat — Anthony won that battle — the two hospital systems merged Nov. 1, creating the new Hospital District No. 6.

The union was realized after Anthony Medical Center and Harper Hospital were approached by Patterson, who encouraged them to partner in the creation of a new model of rural health care.

“There are many challenges facing the future of health care in Harper County and other rural communities,” Lindsey Patterson Smith, Neal’s daughter and director of the Patterson Foundation, said in a release. “The Patterson Foundation understands that success lies not only in innovation but in collaboration among interested parties. We are honored to have Gould Evans as a partner as we strive to transform the way health and care are delivered in rural communities.”

Gould Evans and Kahler Slater’s design of the new campus addresses fundamentals inherent to the characteristics of rural life, including changing demographics and the economic stresses many rural hospitals face throughout America.

The Patterson Health Center will be a new model for rural health care sustainability, offering an innovative approach to standard clinic programming that provides care teams with the greatest flexibility to respond to the changing health care landscape.

An “Integrated Care Team” layout brings patient rooms, staff working areas and service provider offices together in one place, creating a centralized, “off-stage” collaboration space. This will allow for more interaction among the care teams and a more streamlined approach to patient care and health outcomes.


“The last conversation I had with Neal was coincidentally about this project, and I know how important this community was to him and his family,” Anthony Rohr, national managing principal with Gould Evans, said in a release. “We incorporated every lesson we learned from Neal into this project, and there’s so much more to it than a collection of organized program spaces.”

The motto for the new facility will be “Get Well, Eat Well, Stay Well,” with different spaces within it designed to address each of those components.

The $41 million cost includes equipping the hospital and clinic and setting up telemedicine facilities to ease communication with patients and health care providers off-site.

According to a written statement from Martha Hadsall, board chair for Hospital District No. 6, the Patterson Health Center could serve as a model for delivery of rural telemedicine. The facility's partnership with Cerner (Nasdaq: CERN), she added, "opens many technological opportunities."

In a letter to the hospitals that the Patterson Health Center will replace, Neal Patterson wrote the following:

"Today with information and medical technologies, it is possible to design a rural system with access to almost all of the care standards and specialty skills of a large national integrated health system — a system that helps the right decisions to be made with the right skills at the right time. Simply speaking, lives will be saved, and more health care will stay in the community, which brings real economic benefits to the community.”

Other Coverage:

The Hutchinson News


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