Health Care

KU Health plans to purchase another hospital outside the Kansas City area

The University of Kansas Health System announced this week it plans to purchase Great Bend Regional Hospital, a 33-bed facility in central Kansas.
The University of Kansas Health System announced this week it plans to purchase Great Bend Regional Hospital, a 33-bed facility in central Kansas. Submitted photo

The University of Kansas Health System announced Wednesday it plans to buy a hospital in Great Bend, the latest in a series of moves to increase the system's presence outside the Kansas City metro area.

KU Health officials said in a news release they signed a letter of intent to purchase the operations of Great Bend Regional Hospital and its affiliated clinics. They declined to provide details about the agreement, which is expected to be finalized this summer.

In recent years KU Health has acquired or partnered with HaysMed in Hays, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, a HaysMed partner in Larned and St. Francis Hospital in Topeka.

Great Bend Regional is a 33-bed hospital that discharged about 1,400 patients and brought in about $91 million in revenue in 2016, according to the American Hospital Directory.

It opened in 2009 and was the last inpatient hospital left standing in Great Bend — population 16,000 — after a 99-bed Catholic hospital became an outpatient facility in 2011 due to persistent declines in admissions.

At the time, Great Bend Regional was a for-profit, physician-owned hospital.

That model became severely restricted after the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

The health reform law barred new physician-owned hospitals and required waivers for existing physician-owned hospitals to expand because of perceived conflicts of interest. Other types of hospitals argued that when physicians own a hospital, they're able to cherry-pick the wealthiest and best insured for the themselves and refer more expensive patients with lower reimbursements elsewhere.

In January 2017, a Maryland-based investment company called Global Medical REIT announced that it had purchased the building that houses Great Bend Regional Hospital for $24.5 million and planned to lease it back to the hospital for the next 15 years.

A spokesman for KU Health said the organization will be in contact with Global Medical REIT regarding the building lease before the purchase of the hospital operations is finalized.

The University’s of Kansas Hospital is about to open the cutting-edge Cambridge Tower, with neuroscience, surgical oncology and other specialties.

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