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Wichita Hospitals Invest in Growth, Education

Wichita residents have access to highly qualified doctors, nurses and cutting-edge care through area hospitals that are continuously enhancing their programs and facilities.

By John Fuller on January 2, 2014

Highly qualified doctors and nurses and cutting-edge care distinguish hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Wichita area. Leading providers, such as Via Christi Health, Wesley Medical Center and Newton Medical Center, are constantly expanding services and facilities, as well as launching training and educational programs for clinicians to ensure patients will continue to receive top-level care for years to come.

Efforts toward these goals have been recognized. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas recently honored Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center for their quality and efficiency.

In addition to providing residents with access to excellent care, healthcare is a top industry in the area, employing more than 71,000 people and contributing more than $2.7 billion in payroll, according to a 2013 report by Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research. Healthcare employs one out of every six people working in the Wichita metro, the study says.

Boosting Facilities, Services

To accommodate more patients, area hospitals are growing. At Wesley Medical Center, a $36 million renovation and expansion of women’s care facilities is under way.

“We began a 17-month project in June, and we’re very excited to be investing $36.5 million into women’s services,” says Hugh Tappan, president and CEO of Wesley Medical Center. “We’re known as the baby hospital, and the renovation will ensure that our facilities and aesthetics live up to that billing.”

Set for completion in spring 2015, the renovation will add 18 beds, including replacing furnishings and equipment.

“We’ve been focused on women’s and children’s needs for many years,” Tappan says. “We want to continue that legacy and remain a leader in women’s services by making sure the building and equipment are state of the art.”

Other area providers are also growing their reach. Hutchinson Regional Medical Center is in the midst of a $5 million upgrade that will double capacity in its emergency room from 10 beds to 20. Newton Medical Center recently opened a new primary-care clinic in Sedgwick, and Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital began construction of a 7,000-square-foot immediate care clinic in Augusta that will treat patients with minor illnesses and injuries.

Wichita-area veterans can find quality care through the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which offers rehabilitation, oncology and orthopedic surgery, among other services.

Customized care programs are expanding in the area, too. Via Christi Health is partnering with INTRUST Bank on a health and wellness program that offers physicals to its executives.

Investing in Education

Acknowledging the importance of education when it comes to providing the best care, Via Christi Health has also teamed up with Wichita State University to develop curriculum for a new master’s degree in nursing leadership and administration. The partnership was initiated by Via Christi Health.

“These two new concentrations were developed to help them grow their management teams and address a shortage of nursing faculty,” says Betty Smith-Campbell, chair of WSU’s School of Nursing.

Most area hospitals are placing increased emphasis on making sure their nursing staffs have baccalaureate degrees, an accreditation recommended by the Institute of Medicine, Smith-Campbell says. WSU, which educates about 5,000 nursing students each year, is prepared to meet that growing trend among healthcare employers.

“There are studies that link higher educated nurses with better patient outcomes,” she says. “Some healthcare agencies are only accepting new employees with a baccalaureate in nursing.”

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