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2 Kansas health care centers join Colo. group

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) -- St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City and St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center in Great Bend are planning to become part of Centura Health Initiatives, Colorado's largest health care organization.

Centura Health Initiatives is jointly operated by Catholic Health Initiatives and Adventist Health System, a mission of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The organizational change will integrate all Catholic Health Initiatives' facilities in Colorado and Kansas into one regional structure, the company said Thursday.

The change should not cause any noticeable differences for patients of the two Kansas facilities but will give the organizations access to more specialized care and a more solid foundation to weather changes in health care regulations and funding, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/WbqSYZ ).

The organizational structure at St. Catherine's and St. Rose will remain intact, said Scott Taylor, president and CEO of CHI Kansas. No jobs will be lost at either medical facility and some operations that were expected to be outsourced will remain in place, Taylor said.

"We see three things in the immediate future," Taylor said during a media conference call. "First is improved overall quality of care for the residents of Kansas. We'll also be able to reduce the cost of that care, both to consumers and local providers who struggle with the cost of care every day. Third, it will improve the experience of care, limiting travel and improving access to specialist and specialty care in this part of the country where care is largely rural."

Centura Health is Colorado's largest organization of hospitals and health care services, operating 13 hospitals, seven senior living communities and home care and hospice services.

Taylor said Centura Health has expertise in telemedicine and home-based health services that are not currently available through CHI in Kansas.

St. Catherine's has grown into a regional medical center in the last decade, with 40 percent of its patients referred from outside Finney County, Taylor said. And St. Rose has changed in the last 18 months into a multi-specialty practice with an array of ambulatory and surgical services, he said.

Joining Centura Health will allow the institutions to maintain their Catholic identity while working in an organization with a strategic plan and philosophy closely aligned with the St. Catherine's and St. Rose market, he said.

CHI facilities within Centura are managed as "uniquely Catholic," Taylor said, while Adventist Health operates its facilities according to dictates of that church.

Operational responsibility of the hospitals will transfer on Jan. 1. Employees of the Kansas facilities will become employees of Centura Health on July 1. The entire transition, Taylor said, is expected to take 18 months.