Health Care

South-central hospitals build, expand

Evidence that health care continues to be a strong segment of the economy in south-central Kansas:

Harper Hospital recently opened an expansion, and construction is under way and on schedule on a new hospital for Arkansas City.

The Harper project's grand opening was Dec. 19. The new space links the hospital to its existing adjacent clinic.

The 12,500-square-foot addition includes a new hospital entry, a centralized waiting area under a new rotunda, new lab space and business offices, according to David Riffle of Howard and Helmer Architecture and Quentin Ellis of Hutton Construction.

Work on the $2.8 million project began in January, Ellis said.

Riffle said the expansion's features include an 80-foot-long mural of the history of Harper and an indoor healing garden.

In Arkansas City, a new hospital will go up about 2 miles north of the city limits. It will occupy 20 to 30 acres of a 168-acre site.

"We have officially begun construction," said Clayton Pappan of South Central Kansas Regional Medical Center.

Dirt work is finished and concrete is being poured, Ellis said, though the weather Wednesday kept work from proceeding. Still, the work is on schedule with a targeted completion date of February 2011.

The hospital is being funded with a $23 million bond project.

"Our portion of that is $16 1/2 million," Ellis said, with the rest of the money going for roads, utilities and medical equipment.

The one-story hospital will have 62,300 square feet.

Pappan said the hospital will have 37 beds. It will replace a hospital built in the 1950s.

"We're just excited to have construction taking place out on the site. It's taken us a long time to get to this point," he said. "We just hope the weather cooperates."

Arkansas City has made several attempts over the past decade to renovate or replace the existing hospital; in November 2008, voters approved a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to finance the project.

The city will own the hospital; a hospital board will oversee its operations.