Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. has reorganized its Kansas and Missouri division and moved the division chief to Wichita to keep closer tabs on the chain's giant Wesley Medical Center there.
At 760 beds, Wesley had stood alone in its own division, apart from the Kansas and Missouri division headed by Kevin Gross in Kansas City, Mo. Now, the medical center will report to Gross.
Wesley, the largest of Columbia's hospitals measured by revenues, represents more than half the revenues and assets of the combined two-state division, Gross said. Therefore, it makes sense to concentrate management time and resources there.
Wesley also has come under renewed competition from the two Roman Catholic hospitals in town, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center, which late last year merged to form Via Christi Health System. Wesley recently eliminated 204 positions.
In an interview with MODERN HEALTHCARE, Gross said Columbia would like to form a statewide integrated provider network, similar to Via Christi's. So far, the company has three hospitals in Kansas: Wesley; Western Plains Regional Hospital in Dodge City; and Overland Park Regional Medical Center in a Kansas City suburb.
In addition, Columbia soon will acquire 190-bed Halstead Hospital, in the town of Halstead 30 miles north of Wichita. Columbia is getting the facility as part of an exchange of six hospitals with Paracelsus Healthcare Corp.
Columbia officials say they are seriously thinking about building some inpatient beds in fast-growing Lawrence, Kan., where the company already operates an ambulatory center and a medical office complex. Columbia tried to pursue a purchase or joint venture with Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the only other hospital in town, but was rebuffed.
"Lawrence Memorial has decided to go it alone, not to venture-partner with anybody," Gross said. "We'll make a decision in the next 60 days whether to go forward with the beds. We just think there's opportunity there. To provide the full range of services, we need to have some beds out there."
Columbia's two medical-surgical hospitals in the Kansas City area are both showing significant admission growth, Gross said. Overland Park was up 23% for 1995, although its profit margin is declining. Independence Regional Medical Center saw admissions rise 15%, he said. Profits there are rising.
Even so, Columbia is streamlining operations at those hospitals. Late last year, Overland Park winnowed its managerial staff to 19 from 44 .
"It was a reorganization," said spokeswoman Fran Ford Jacques. "The true management functions have been centralized and rest in the hands of 19 people." There were no cuts in direct patient-care areas, she said. As an example of the efficiencies the company is trying to effect, Jacques has assumed marketing duties for both hospitals.