A glance back in celebration
By: Maggie Gebhardt
Hays Daily News
April 1, 2016
Friday marks 25 years since Hays Medical Center officially opened its doors as the lone hospital in Hays, vowing to “Help People Be Healthy.”
Before HaysMed was established, two religiously operated facilities — St. Anthony Hospital and Hadley Regional Medical Center — separately serviced patient needs in the area.
In 1991, the two merged as one, combining two belief systems and providing one unified option for patients.
“The merger combined two great hospital cultures that facilitated growth in all areas of health care,” said Ken Beran, HaysMed board member and past chairman.
When the two operated separately, Catholics primarily accessed St. Anthony for medical services, while most non-Catholics went to Hadley Medical Center, which was sponsored by the Methodist Church, according to John Jeter, HaysMed president and chief executive officer.
In the early 1970s, both hospitals underwent significant expansion projects.
“St. Anthony moved out to the location where HaysMed is located right now from their original location at 13th and Ash in front of Sunflower Electric,” Jeter said. “Both hospitals spent a lot of money and were buying a lot of medical equipment that was being developed.”
After the expansion projects, Hays saw tough times, according to Jeter. The economy began to struggle due to unemployment, low oil prices and low wheat prices. In turn, the depletions hurt the hospitals.
“Both hospitals are sitting here with a lot of debt from all their equipment they bought from the expansion projects, and then the economy was really in trouble,” Jeter said.
Facing that reality ultimately led to private, secretive meetings between the two medical facilities, as they desperately tried to find a solution to their financial problems.
“As I understand it, there were some meetings between leaders of both facilities that were private; they weren’t public at all,” Jeter said. “I don’t think a lot of people knew it was going on, but they were having conversations about merging.”
After the decision to merge was made, controversy stirred in the community, and it took some time before the concept was accepted.
“People had tremendous loyalty to one hospital or the other, so the idea of putting them together was really controversial and there was concern,” Jeter said.
Jeter’s father, Norman Jeter, actively was involved with the establishment of the merger. He was a lead negotiator for Hadley Regional Medical Center, while Sister Mary Mollison, with the Sisters of St. Agnus, led the negotiation for St. Anthony Hospital, according to John Jeter.
After the decisions were made and finalized, the two medical facilities unified as one, becoming Hays Medical Center — later taking on the name HaysMed.
Jeter said the collaboration faced its challenges. But when he arrived in Hays in 1996, most things had been resolved.
Since becoming HaysMed in 1991, the hospital has seen significant growth and development.
In 1999, the $28.5 million hospital addition was completed, paving the way for other developments. Just a few of the strides included the first open-heart surgery in 1998, the opening of the Center for Health Improvement in 2002, PET scans first offered in 2003, spine surgery established in 2004, HaysMed assuming operations of Pawnee Valley Community Hospital in 2010, robotic surgery established in 2014, and HaysMed and Centura Health establishing St. Rose Health Center in 2015.
“We are absolutely continuing every day to understand this dynamic industry we’re in and make bold and innovative decisions going forward,” Jeter said.
From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, the hospital will celebrate its 25-year anniversary with a walk around its fitness trail, while exposing key facts about the past 25 years and providing complimentary “on-the-go” box lunches. T-shirts will be given away to the first 150 people.