HALSTEAD — Five years after he bought the Halstead Hospital in south-central Kansas, a New York businessman says he still hopes to bring the facility back to life.
Although Azzy Reckess of Paz Health Care Management bought the hospital in 2006, work at the site has been at a standstill until recently. But Reckess told the Hutchinson News that he is "determined to make it happen" and has been working on plans for the 264,000-square foot facility. He wouldn't say exactly what those plans are, but said a program will begin opening in the hospital by June or July.
The goal is to have the hospital filled by the end of 2011.
"I am in the picture," said Reckess, who lives in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Currently about 70 employees with a private non-medical call center work in the building.
When he bought the facility, Reckess said he planned to convert it into a space for medical support services. Financing for that project fell through, and Reckless said he has changed direction.
Mayor Kevin Pyle said he appreciates that Reckess keeps returning to Halstead to try to get the building in operation. Pyle said the hospital, once known as the "Little Mayo Clinic of the Great Plains," has a huge identity in Halstead, a town of about 1,900 residents.
"There may be a lot of skeptics," Pyle said, "but he continues to come back to Kansas when it would have been so easy to walk away."
But Reckess has remained in contact with local leaders, which surprised and pleased Pyle.
"That's enough to make me optimistic," the mayor said.