Health Care

Surgicare of Wichita moving to new building on Greenwich Road

Surgicare of Wichita, which was one of the first outpatient surgery centers in the country, will move into a $7 million facility at 2818 N. Greenwich Road later this month.

The first procedure at the 29,000-square-foot surgery center will be held on Valentine’s Day.

Patients will continue to be seen at the 810 N. Lorraine facility through next week, said administrator Tracie Johanek.

“It’s bittersweet,” Johanek said. “At that facility, there are a lot of people that have worked over there for a lot of years, and we’re excited to have all this new technology and space. It’s bittersweet. It’s part of Wichita’s medical history. But this is the next phase.”

Dr. M. Robert Knapp founded what was then called Minor Surgery Center of Wichita in the early 1970s. He attended medical school at New York University from 1944 to 1947 and practiced in Wichita from 1955 until his retirement in 1991.

“Can you imagine: You can get operated on, and then you could go home? We had to convince lots of patients that this was OK, and now it’s become a well accepted part of American medicine and outpatient surgery,” said Knapp, who traveled from Arizona to see the new center.

“I’m glad I was a part of it,” he said. “We have a wonderful thing going on here, and Wichita should be proud.”

At its current facility, Surgicare does about 400 procedures a year, said Dr. Gerry Bassell, medical director.

“Back when Dr. Knapp was one of the founders of the industry, the cases that came out of the hospitals and went into free-standing ambulatory surgery centers were tonsils and fairly straightforward and simple procedures,” Bassell said.“Now we are doing hysterectomies and major orthopedic procedures, complex surgeries that require complex equipment, space and, to me, the changes have been mindboggling.”

Surgeries include gynecology, orthopedics, general surgery, podiatry, gastroenterology and ophthalmology.

The bigger building could also mean more staff, Johanek said. There are currently 54 employees, 38 of whom work full time.

Construction on the new center began in November 2011, but planning for the new site started in 2009, Johanek said.

The building has eight 500-square-foot operating rooms with LED lights and wireless video for surgeries and two procedure rooms. It also has a separate area for pediatric patients and reinforced concrete walls in the event of a tornado.

The facility is majority owned by Hospital Corporation of America, which also owns Wesley Medical Center. Physicians are minority owners.

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