The University of Kansas Hospital and Hays Medical Center announced Wednesday that they have signed a letter of intent to join forces, bringing together the state’s only academic hospital and one of its leading rural hospitals.
The agreement, which was announced at simultaneous news conferences at both hospitals, builds on a relationship established more than two years ago when the two institutions, along with more than a dozen critical care hospitals, partnered to treat heart and stroke patients in western Kansas.
Hays Medical Center, known as HaysMed, will retain its name and separate ownership structure. Dr. John Jeter will continue as the Hays hospital’s CEO, and Bob Page will remain as president and CEO of KU Hospital.
An operations council consisting of members of both hospital boards will oversee the partnership; two KU board members will join HaysMed’s board.
HaysMed is a nonprofit, 207-bed hospital created through the 1991 merger of two religiously affiliated institutions. It is the only hospital providing tertiary level services in its market area in northwest Kansas.
Jeter said the partnership would allow HaysMed to take patient care to a level it couldn’t achieve by itself.
Patients, he said at the news conference, “will see leading-edge medical developments, those that are available only at academic medical centers, come to western Kansas more quickly.”
Details of the partnership will be worked out in coming months, Page and Jeter said. Once the details are ironed out, HaysMed will join the University of Kansas Health System, which includes KU Hospital and KU Physicians.
KU Hospital, with 756 beds and more than $1.5 billion in operating revenue in fiscal 2015, dwarfs HaysMed in size. KU Hospital is affiliated with KU’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report in 11 adult specialties.
“We clearly need to recruit more physicians, especially specialists, who are for the most part trained in Kansas City,” Jeter said. “Yes, there are some physicians who train in Wichita, there’s a family medicine training program in Salina, but some of the specialists that we’re really in need of bringing to western Kansas are in Kansas City. We hope this will help us with recruiting.”
The partnership will allow the two hospitals to explore other collaborations in areas such as telemedicine, rural health, population health and clinical program development, according to a news release announcing the partnership.
Page said KU Hospital plans to explore other partnerships in Kansas, Missouri and possibly other states.