COLBY, Kan. (KSNW) — The town of Colby is on its way to having a new hospital. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture officially announced that it is lending more than $108 million to the project.
The new building will incorporate operations of the current hospital, Citizens Medical Center, and Family Center for Health Care clinic under one roof.
Citizens Health is the organization that includes the hospital, the clinic and the Prairie Senior Living skilled nursing facility. It says the new building is a necessity. The hospital has outgrown its current aging space as the patient base has increased by 65% over the past five years.
“The current space isn’t, wasn’t built to handle that kind of volume change,” David McCorkle, CEO of Citizens Health, said.
The current building is a 25-bed critical access hospital. McCorkle says the new hospital will keep that number, but there will be more space and newer technology.
“We have 26 providers that work for our organization,” he said. “That includes family practice providers as well as general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and anesthesia providers.”
McCorkle said about 42 visiting specialists also visit the hospital throughout the month.
“We do have a wide range of specialists that come to our organization and create that access to health care that you might not be able to get in a typical rural community, or you might have to go to an urban area such as Denver, Kansas City, Wichita to get that service,” he said.
The hospital is a regional presence, with 56% of its patients coming from outside Colby.
“We’re a private, not-for-profit entity,” McCorkle said. “We have the flexibility to be able to go and meet people’s needs, so when a patient comes to us and says, ‘You know, I’m driving to Denver to receive this care’ or ‘I have to go to Kansas City or Wichita for this or that,’ our providers come, and we talk about that, and we see what we can do to accommodate patients’ needs.”
Work has already started on the new 175,000-square-foot hospital. Crews broke ground for the new hospital two weeks ago. It is south of the existing hospital that was built in 1982. The new hospital will be between the current hospital and Prairie Senior. The main entrance will face Franklin Street.
Sen. Jerry Moran was at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“It is investments like the one Citizens Health is making with its new facility that will revive health care in Kansas’ communities and protect our state’s way of life,” he said.
Citizens Health Board of Trustees and Administration says that once the new hospital opens, the former hospital will be repurposed and used for other functions of the organization.
“The providers and staff have worked diligently to expand programs and services to meet the needs of patients of northwest Kansas, and we have simply outgrown our existing facility,” Bob Standage, board chair, said in a news release.
USDA Rural Development Kansas State Director Christy Davis waited until Thursday, National Rural Health Day, to publicize the loan information.
“USDA is committed to ensuring rural Americans have access to reliable quality health care, like that provided by Citizens Medical Center,” Davis said in a news release.
Citizens Health says the $108 million is a low-interest loan not supported by tax dollars. The Citizens Foundation will also launch a gifting campaign.
Construction on the new hospital is expected to last about two and a half years.