By Eric Althoff
HARPER COUNTY, Kan.—Gould Evans is honoring the late co-founder and CEO of healthcare software company Cerner Corp. by naming its latest healthcare center for Neal Patterson.
The 62,500-square-foot Patterson Health Center in rural Harper County will bring together under one roof two separate critical care centers. It was designed by planning firm Gould Evans, which has offices in Kansas City among other locations. Gould Evans worked in concert with Kahler Slater’s Medical Planning Consultants team on the project. The center will warehouse both health facilities as well as double as a community center.
Patterson Health Center will serve the neighboring communities of Harper and Anthony, and it shares real a real estate line with Chaparral High School, which teaches children from both towns—and whose curriculum will soon offer health classes and job training courses in the industry.
“It is intentionally called a health center, not a hospital,” said Martha Hadsall, board chair of Patterson Health Center. “The building offers tons of natural light, beautiful views of the prairie, and access to new and expanded services—truly a place for our communities to gather and lead the transformation of rural healthcare.”
The new facility boasts an inpatient care unit with 10 beds, exam room, outpatient rehabilitation gym and a cafeteria offering locally sourced foods. A gym is planned for a future expansion.
The roof of the health center is designed such that it resembles a beating heart, and local western red cedar was used for the various entries. The layout also makes use of skylights providing illumination to areas such as nurses stations, main hallways and lab spaces—which typically aren’t accessible to natural sunlight.
The Patterson Health Center was funded through the Patterson Family Foundation, founded by Neal Patterson himself. The new facility sits in rural Harper, Kansas, located in the south-central portion of the state and over 200 miles from Kansas City. Data provided by Gould Evans says that 20 percent of Americans who live in a rural setting like Harper have healthcare facilities classified as “at-risk of closure” due to a shortage of funding. Patterson Health Center will provide cost-effective and efficient care in this rural setting.
“This building saves our rural community from potentially losing a hospital or two,” said Pat Patton, the CEO of Patterson Health Center, in a statement. “The unique merging of two critical access hospitals into one efficient, well-organized, patient-centered facility could become a national model. It provides resiliency against the constantly shrinking resources we’re seeing nationwide.”
Patterson, a native of surrounding Harper County, died in 2017 at age 67 from cancer. He co-founded Cerner four decades ago, and at the time of his death the company was the largest private employer in the Kansas City area, according to the Kansas City Star.
“The last conversation I had with Neal was coincidentally about this project,” said Anthony Rohr, National Managing Principal of Gould Evans. “Neal often compared farmers with entrepreneurs. He believed design and technology were not at odds with rural values, but instead had a shared ability to strengthen the agrarian principles of planning, adaptability and hard work.
“Patterson Health Center strives to embody and support its community and place.”