Cloud County Health Center Launches a Master Facility Planning Process; Acknowledges Community Support for a New Facility

By Toby Nosker
KNCK News Director

The Cloud County Health Center in Concordia, in conjunction with Salina Regional Health Center, has embarked on a four-month Master Facility Planning process to address their facility needs, hospital administrator David Garnas announced during a press conference Thursday, December 6th.

The Master Facility Plan will kick-off with the first set of meetings the week of December 17th, and is expected to conclude in April 2019.

Money for the Master Facility Plan was approved by the Cloud County Health Center Board of Trustees during their August meeting.

As a part of this process, Garnas said departments throughout the hospital will be involved by providing valuable input as to future facility needs in order to enhance their ability to provide excellent local access to care well into the future.

Garnas, the former CEO at the Sedgwick County (Colorado) Health Center, said discussions about examining their facilities began shortly after he joined the Cloud County Health Center in April 2018. He said their goal is to design a conservative facility that meets their needs, adding that a new facility won't be fancy, but will be functional with good, high-quality square-footage.

The Cloud County Health Center has hired TreanorHL to develop the Master Facility Plan. TreanorHL, which has teams in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Colorado Springs, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta and San Francisco, specializes in architectural design, planning, interior design, historic preservation, civil engineering and landscape architecture.

TreanorHL's Health Studio has been providing planning and design services to healthcare clients for more than 30 years. In the past decade, they have delivered over four-million square feet of healthcare projects, totaling more than $1.5 billion in construction.

Through the facility planning process, Garnas said they'll be evaluating three possible locations for a new hospital.

This fall, local governmental entities, taxing bodies and boards throughout Cloud County identified a new, modern medical facility as the top overall priority project for the community.

In September, at the directive of her 25-member Board of Directors, CloudCorp Executive Director Ashley Hutchinson sent an email asking local entities to come together to support projects prioritized by the community.

Since that time, the cities of Concordia, Clyde and Miltonvale, along with Cloud County, USD 333 Concordia, Cloud County Community College, the Community Foundation for Cloud County and the Concordia Chamber of Commerce have all shared with CloudCorp their top three priorities for the community. A new, modern medical facility made it onto seven of the eight priority lists and was found to be the top overall priority project for five of the responding groups.

"While every entity in the county has its own needs, the need for a new medical facility should be at the top of everyone's list," Cloud County Community College President Dr. Adrian Douglas said in a news release. "Without modern medical care, we can't attract more families to the county, which ultimately has an effect on our enrollment and operations."

Garnas publicly recognized the input of these groups during Thursday's media briefing.

As they push forward in the planning process, Garnas said they will desire more feedback from the community.

Talk of a new medical facility in Concordia has been in play for more than a decade.

In November 2008, voters in Cloud County overwhelmingly voted no to a bond issue of $28.9 million in order to pay the costs to acquire a site in Concordia and construct, furnish and equip a new Cloud County Health Center. The measure failed 2,658 votes to 1,666 votes -- a difference of 992 votes.

In February 2013, a special election was held for a proposed new 72,000-square foot Cloud County Health Center, estimated at $29.8 million, to be built adjacent to Blosser Municipal Airport in Concordia, with construction of the hospital paid for through a combination of philanthropic gifts and bond financing, repaid by revenue generated by the new hospital and through the issuance of a countywide .75% sales tax increase. But Cloud County voters again defeated the proposal 1,699 votes to 1,387 votes -- a difference of 312 votes.

"As evidenced by two previous public funding votes for a modern health care facility, the Board has been aware for some time that the overall inefficiency and physical limitations of our current facility need to be addressed," Board Chairperson Phil Gilliland said in a statement this week. "However, after the last election, the board's focus shifted to improving internal operations and focusing on patient/customer care."

In May 2016, the Cloud County Health Center officially began a clinical and operational affiliation with Salina Regional Health Center to better serve their patients and communities.

"(The affiliation) has provided better allocation of overhead expenses, created access to specialty care, and allowed substantial improvements in technology and a more seamless coordination between the two organizations," Gilliland said. "The affiliation also allowed us to do a nationwide search for a new administrator. We are very pleased with the progress Dave has made so far, and therefore we comfortable in moving up the timeline to begin to formally address our facility needs."