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Kansas Spine Hospital to add operating rooms

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, at 9:35 p.m.

Kansas Spine Hospital, 3333 North Webb, recently began a $1.5 million expansion to add two operating rooms by March 2013.

“The reason for the physical expansion is the significant growth of activity at Kansas Spine Hospital,” said CEO Thomas Schmitt. “Since 2009, we have increased our admissions by 52 percent. That is a tremendous rate of growth associated with recruiting new neurosurgeons, diversifying into orthopedic surgery (and) paying special attention to the workers comp marketplace.”

With the expansion, the hospital will have six operating rooms.

It’s on pace to perform about 2,800 surgeries this year, an increase of more than 25 percent from last year, Schmitt said.

But the expansion comes at a cost: Schmitt said the hospital will have to remove two licensed beds to compensate for the expanded operating rooms because of restrictions included in the federal Affordable Care Act.

Under the 2010 health care law, physician-owned facilities face restrictions on expansion.

Schmitt said the hospital actually put its plans on hold until “the more detailed rules associated with the law’s implementation became apparent,” Schmitt said. “When those rules were established, it clarified that physician-owned facilities could expand some aspects of operation so long as we kept the number of beds, procedure rooms and operation rooms in aggregate the same. We’re trading beds for operating rooms.

The hospital currently has 38 licensed beds but will reduce that to 36 to meet federal requirements. The average length of stay for patients in licensed beds following surgery is 2.24 days, Schmitt said.

“At this point, the impact of the law on the spine hospital has been a delay in this expansion and now with the clarification, it’s an opportunity to grow,” Schmitt said. “It is certainly the position of Kansas Spine Hospital and all physician-owned hospitals that there should not be unique limitations placed on our industry that restricts our growth in any way. That should be up to consumer choices.”

The hospital will eventually reach limits on its ability to serve patients if the current health care law is not modified, Schmitt said.

Construction began a couple of weeks ago. The hard construction costs are estimated at $1.5 million, and officials anticipate spending an additional $500,000 in equipment and related expenses.

The rooms are being constructed separately from the existing surgery suites and will be connected at the end of construction to avoid disturbing current operations.

Kansas Spine Hospital is owned by a group of 10 physicians. It was founded in 2003 by neurosurgeon Eustaquio Abay and focuses on spinal care, orthopedic surgery, radiology, pain management and physical and occupational therapy.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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