Open Letter to Community – via Emporia Gazette

Message from Your Local Stormont Vail Healthcare Team

Stormont Vail Health is a local healthcare team, caring for 18,000 Emporia and Lyon County residents at our clinic in Emporia, contrary to what has been implied in the media. We have served Emporia since 1994 through our Emporia Cotton O’Neil Clinic.

In August, Stormont Vail was invited by Newman Regional Health leaders to meet to discuss our strategic plan. At that meeting, Stormont Vail presented a high level view of our intention to expand in Emporia to meet the needs of patients who live in Emporia and the region but have chosen to have their health care needs met in Topeka, Kansas City and Wichita. Examples, from data available through the Kansas Hospital Association, include:

  • 50% of Lyon County residents now leave the Emporia market for their outpatient surgeries and procedures.
  • 5,000 imaging studies for Lyon County residents are conducted in healthcare facilities outside Emporia annually.

Stormont Vail Health has provided safe, high quality care in the Lyon County area through its Emporia Cotton O’Neil Clinic for nearly 30 years, and served Kansans with health care for well over a century. Our Emporia team of 85 skilled individuals provides primary and specialty healthcare services (OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Occupational Health, etc.), imaging including diagnostics and mammography, and lab services. Team members include physicians, advance practice providers, nurses, radiology techs and lab professionals.

We collaborate with numerous healthcare peers across the region – physicians, clinics and community hospitals, including Newman Regional Health – to ensure patients receive appropriate care close to home.

While Stormont Vail’s Topeka hospital offers more advanced care than community or critical access hospitals with its trauma program, and intensive care units for infants, children and adults, our philosophy is that patients should receive their care close to their “home” community if services there are appropriate. Healthcare has evolved quickly to include new models of care and technology that allows more and more care to be delivered safely and conveniently outside the hospital setting.

Our specialty care clinics – Cardiology, Cardio Electrophysiology, Endocrinology, Allergy, Nephrology, Orthopedics and more – not only have locations in Topeka, but many provide care to patients in outreach clinics in our locations, such as in Emporia, or in space provided by other healthcare organizations. This means the specialty provider is travelling to provide care in a setting that makes it more convenient and accessible to the patient.

Recognizing the changes in healthcare, Stormont Vail Health has positioned itself to give the best care possible across the region. We recently completed a new facility in Manhattan and at the request of the Junction City community stepped into support the clinic and hospital operations to keep healthcare viable and serving patients in that community. We have considered plans to expand in Emporia and met with representatives of Newman Regional Health to begin a dialogue. These plans have always included an environment within which exists a hospital that is financially sustainable.

Cathy Pimple, CEO of Newman Regional Health, is to be commended for her passion and energy but the stance she has taken will prevent the community from moving forward with enhanced healthcare. The zoning changes she is seeking will prevent Stormont Vail Health from moving forward with plans that include expanded services and economic development. The zoning changes will put a chill on any other healthcare organization wanting to invest in Emporia. We strongly oppose the proposed zoning changes.

Stormont Vail has a track record of collaboration. Two examples are our 9-year membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network, providing our patients and providers an opportunity to access another level of expertise for medical conditions through Mayo Clinic experts; and through our affiliation with Children’s Mercy for specialty services for children and adolescents.

Stormont Vail is committed to being a high quality, high performing healthcare organization. This is evident through many healthcare designations, including our fourth American Nursing Credentialing Center’s Magnet designation this fall, which is earned for excellence in nursing and multidisciplinary teamwork.

Patients and patient care are central to our focus. Stormont Vail is seeking to invest in the future of healthcare in Emporia by building a new facility where we can move our current services from poorly maintained and configured leased space in the Newman Regional Health building. Patients often heal better when they are close to home with the support of family and friends.

We remain open to discuss with Newman Regional Health our plans to expand healthcare in Emporia, and hope that the community and their respective governing bodies will welcome the enhanced services, convenience and economic development and partner with Stormont Vail Health to create a healthier tomorrow for Emporia.

Robert S. Kenagy, M.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Stormont Vail Health

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