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HaysMed Provides Services to Western Kansas

The luck of the draw

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

Far and wide.

In simple terms, that's how Hays Medical Center's extensive, and growing, catchment area can be described. Today, HaysMed draws its patient base from 37 western Kansas counties, extending into Colorado and as far south as Liberal.

That number is up from the 24 northwest Kansas counties that continue to be the primary focus of many health care services. HaysMed, however, also has begun to attract patients from the southwest part of the state, said Shae Veach, vice president of regional operations.

"Even as far out as Colorado, southwest Kansas we see a fair share," he said. "But the main, core emphasis has been northwest Kansas and being that referral center for those hospitals in northwest Kansas for specialty services, including nephrology and orthopedics, cardiology, oncology."

As HaysMed has continued to add specialties during the past several years, more people -- and from farther away -- are taking advantage of the opportunity to receive medical care closer to home.

Another drawing factor is some procedures now available at HaysMed primarily are found in larger, urban hospitals. For example, Hays Orthopedic Institute now offers a knee replacement procedure using custom-made implants.

Other innovations of the past year include a procedure in which cardiology patients can receive heart catheters through the wrist as opposed to the leg, the addition of hyperbaric wound care, and a new clinic specializing in breast cancer prevention, treatment and follow-up.

"Our specialty physicians -- we're very thankful that we have the type of specialty physicians we have in Hays, Kansas, to be able to share with not only our community but northwest Kansas," Veach said.

Last year, nearly 124,000 people visited primary care physicians or specialists at HaysMed, according to the hospital's annual community benefit report.

Those numbers also add up to a significant economic benefit for Ellis County. Though no exact statistics are kept, HaysMed's economic contributions to the community are invaluable, said Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development.

In addition to being the county's largest employer, HaysMed also draws residents to Ellis County and helps ensure Hays' position as a regional hub, White said.

"When you look at surrounding small communities, if there's not adequate health care available in the region, they ultimately will move to an area where they can provide adequate care," White said.

"Having a facility that serves our region keeps people in the surrounding communities, and that is a positive impact in our retail factor," White said.

According to data prepared by the Kansas Department of Revenue, Ellis County has the highest trade pull factor in Kansas.

Besides bringing patients to Hays, the hospital also has taken strides to bring needed health services to rural areas. A mobile mammography unit travels the western part of the state, and HaysMed hosts outreach clinics for specialty services in other communities. The DeBakey Heart Institute alone maintains hours at 26 area clinics, Veach said.

HaysMed also manages Pawnee Valley Community Hospital in Larned and a urology clinic in Hoisington.

"We have a lot of resources here at Hays Medical Center, and there are some limited resources within the smaller communities," Veach said. "We want to be that resource for the other hospitals within northwest Kansas."