INDEPENDENCE, Kan. — The Independence Healthcare Center had a dedication ceremony on Aug. 19 for its new facility. This state-of-the-art clinic replaces the original Mercy Hospital that closed its doors almost two years ago. The new facility has an emergency room and a small cancer treatment center, and offers much-needed services since the closure of the old hospital in 2015.
The Health Facilities Group in Wichita, Kan., was the general contractor on the project and Murray Co. in Kansas City, Kan., built it. The new 17,600-square-foot health care center had a budget of $8 million and operates as an extension of Labette Health in Parsons, a regional hospital about 30 miles away. The new facility is considered to be a department of Labette hospital as state law prohibits community hospitals from owning facilities outside the counties in which they’re located. The hospital’s foundation owns the Independence Healthcare Center and then leases it back to the hospital, with an independent board overseeing its operation.
Construction on the new center began in August 2016 and was completed in June of this year. The ER officially opened its doors on July 4 and the rural clinic opened this month, with the cancer center projected to open sometime in September. The project received a $6 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Program.
The new center will provide emergency and other hospital outpatient services at the center, which includes a trauma room, advanced imaging, laboratory services and helicopter accessibility. The center has rural health clinic staffed by physician specialists, primary care physicians and mid-level providers.
“This has been such a huge production,” said Ben Legler, pediatrician and internist at the center in a recent interview with Parsons Sun, a local news outlet. “From doctors to providers to nurses and administration, to pretty much everyone involved in the process. We’ve got this great place now.”
Even so, the need for the community to work together remains, according to Legler.
“That includes citizens, patients, providers and administration. It’s tough to be in a rural clinic,” said Legler. “It’s tough to be in a rural setting. You get to play specialist a lot of time because sometimes you just don’t have them nearby.”