Two hours wasn’t too far to come for treatment when Kolton Hough, 9, was unexpectedly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Vicki Hammack was grateful to find that when she needed it, the help her grandson needed was at a facility just for children, the Wesley Children’s Hospital that opened in 2016.
“They’re really trying to get him through this,” Hammack said on one of Kolton’s visits to Wesley for chemotheraphy. “(The facility) it’s colorful, and I like the way it’s not for older people. You can tell it’s for the kids.”
Leaders at Wesley Medical Center say creating the children’s hospital — at a cost of $28 million — and expanding services has drawn new specialists to the area.
The hospital has up to 16 new pediatric specialists. It offers the only pediatric trauma center in Kansas and the only pediatric surgery practice with 24/7 coverage, according to Bill Voloch, president and CEO of Wesley.
This month, Wesley plans to expand a pediatric concussion clinic.
Another pediatric plastic surgeon will start this summer, as will another pediatric intensivist, according to Casey Guber, chief operating officer at Wesley Healthcare.
Since its grand opening last year, the children’s hospital has had around 8,500 inpatient visits and 45,000 outpatient visits (which may include children coming in for multiple visits), Guber said.
“For many of them, prior to the children’s hospital and the specialists and physicians at the hospital, many of them would have had to go to Kansas City or Denver,” Guber said. “It’s a decent commute and being home and close to their support system makes the healing process that much better.”
Kolton would rather be at his home near Independence with his family’s 10 cats, two dogs, seven cows, two horses and 15 chickens, but after visiting Wesley regularly, he is now in remission.
Nathan Hall, a physician and one of the specialists brought to Wesley last year, said Kolton has had his road bumps.
“Overall, he’s doing very well and we’re hopeful to keep him in remission and continue treating him with therapy and watch him grow up and get older and do well,” Hall said.