0818USDAruralhospitalcare.cfm USDA provides aid for critical access hospital in rural Kansas
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USDA provides aid for critical access hospital in rural Kansas

USDA Rural Development Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager recently announced the award of a $17 million Community Facilities guaranteed loan to Community Memorial Healthcare, Inc. of Marysville, Kan., to construct a 25-bed critical access hospital.

"Replacing this aging hospital will have a tremendous impact not only on the physical health of the community's residents but also on the region's economic health," Tonsager said. "Critical care hospitals such as this are vital to the rural health care network and by providing this loan, we are delivering on the Obama Administration's commitment to rebuild and revitalize rural America."

Rural Development funds will be used to build a 63,780-square-foot hospital to replace the current facility built in 1958. All but 15,080 square feet of the original 54,000-square-foot building will be demolished.

The existing hospital, which has 220 employees and is the third-largest employer in Marshall County, does not function well in today's medical care environment where 80 percent of services are provided on an outpatient basis. As with most aging critical access hospitals, the current facility has a number of limitations that renovation could not cost effectively remedy, such as bathrooms that are not accessible to patients with disabilities, an insufficient number of private rooms, an inefficient layout, an outdated HVAC system and a lack of space for rehabilitation and specialty clinics. The new building will include many energy-efficient features, such as a hybrid electric/gas HVAC system and a centralized control system that will not heat or cool unused rooms.

The hospital offers a relatively unique service among rural health care facilities: neurological care. These services are made possible through the hospital's relationship with Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan, Kan. The new facility will be finished in Spring 2011 and is expected to help encourage doctors to remain in rural areas. In addition to the patient care benefits, the hospital provides about 65 meals a day through a reduced-cost Meals-on-Wheels program within the community of Marysville.

The loan funds are part of USDA Rural Development's annual budget and are not funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Earlier this year, the Harney County Health District completed work on the new Harney County Hospital in Burns, Ore., which was also funded in part by USDA Rural Development. USDA provided a $9 million direct loan and a $4 million guaranteed loan to help build the new critical access hospital.

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