KEARNEY — With the snip of a ribbon and a hearty laugh, Gov. Dave Heineman officially opened the Kearney Regional Medical Center.
“Surgery is free for the next six hours,” he joked as he commented about the $22 million, 58,000-square-foot hospital at 804 22nd Ave., and the doctors who worked for four years to bring it to fruition.
“We're excited. Projects like this are an excellent reason why Kearney is such a special place to live and work,” he said Thursday.
Cardiologist Sean Denney, chairman of the KRMC board of directors, thanked the city for its support and encouragement, along with NebraskaLand National Bank and Great Western Bank because “nothing happens without money.”
“There are 1,000 people we could say thanks to. We have a great staff,” he said.
Also introduced was Larry Speicher, KRMC's first permanent CEO. Speicher was the administrator at Platte Valley Medical Group, which last month moved out of its offices adjacent to Good Samaritan Hospital and into the 48,000-square-foot medical office building that adjoins KRMC.
A crowd of several hundred watched the ribbon-cutting and then toured the hospital's five operating rooms, imaging department with X-ray, echocardiogram, ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, and interventional radiology; cardiac/cath lab, endoscopy suite, pharmacy, laboratory, triage room, four ICU beds, and more than 20 patient rooms.
A public open house and guided tours will be 9 to 11 a.m. today.
“This is a beautiful facility,” Ward Schraeder, CEO of Medical Development Management, said proudly after the ceremonies. “We will do quality health care in a facility like this.”
MDM is the Wichita, Kan.-based company that assisted Kearney physicians and other investors in building, equipping and licensing KRMC.
MDM has established four other hospitals, 15 surgery centers and 10 imaging centers in Kansas, California and Nebraska, Schraeder said.
A group of 40 Kearney physicians announced plans in October 2009 to build KRMC. The first surgeries were performed last fall.
In November, state inspectors visited, and in December KRMC was issued its state hospital license.
Recently, federal Medicare surveyors reviewed KRMC. Hospital officials expect to receive Medicare certification shortly, according to Adrienne Carney, director of nursing and surgical services.
So far, she said, the facility has performed 30 surgeries. It had to do 20 to be eligible for Medicare certification.
Patients are being treated at the hospital now, and once Medicare certification arrives, procedures can be back-billed, according to Steve Regier, chief financial officer.
MDM is leasing the facilities and operating KRMC, while physicians and other investors own the hospital and grounds.
Later this year, the hospital plans to complete its emergency department and add more patient rooms.
KRMC has a staff of 50 nurses, technicians and others, but that number is expected to reach 70 by spring.