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Archive for Saturday, November 16, 2002

KU Med-Children’s Mercy partnership will benefit state

November 16, 2002

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News that officials of KU Med and Children's Mercy Hospital are studying the possibility of some type of joint operation or merger of some facets of their operations makes great sense.

If something like this could be worked out, it would be good for both hospitals, good for the young patients and good for the state of Kansas.

For years, several of those associated with the two medical facilities have said there ought to be a way to take advantage of the assets of each facility rather than to have two hospitals, almost within eyesight of each other, competing with each other.

Perhaps egos and turf wars prevented any move, but apparently powers at KU Med and Children's Mercy decided such an effort made too much common sense not to give it a try.

Children's Mercy is considered one of the nation's outstanding children's hospitals. It enjoys a proud history, and its excellence is known throughout the country. Private financial generosity has played a significant role in the growth and development of the hospital, and it has an excellent group of men and women serving on various volunteer boards.

Few similar medical facilities could match the quality, commitment and generosity of those serving on the board of trustees. It is because of these individuals, along with the superior medical staff, that the hospital has achieved its national reputation.

KU Med's reputation

Only a mile or two to the west, KU Med also is developing a reputation as an outstanding hospital. Under the leadership of Irene Cumming, president and chief executive officer, and with its independence from the state, KU Med has seen a sizable increase in patients. Though they work closely, the hospital is independent of the Kansas University Medical Center, and combined they offer a medical environment that has tremendous potential.

It's not overstating the situation to suggest KU Med and the KU Medical Center could become the leading medical and medical research center for this part of the country.

In the past, the fact KU Med and Children's Mercy are separated by the state line has been seen as a big hurdle, and it still might cause a few problems for collaboration. But Children's Mercy has a facility in Overland Park, so it, too, has a presence in Kansas. Already the institutions have several joint programs, including a couple of research projects financed by the National Institutes of Health and the Hall Family Foundation of Kansas City, Mo. And several faculty members and physicians split time between the two hospitals.

There are many, many ways both hospitals, their patients and staff could benefit by combining or joining efforts in various areas, including significant savings in dollars.

The Hall Family Foundation has played a major role in the fiscal support of Mercy and has been extremely generous to the KU Medical Center and KU Med.

It is hoped officials at both institutions will continue to move ahead on this project. There are far too many pluses and benefits for all parties to let this effort die.

Congratulations to those at Children's Mercy and KU Med, as well as those at the KU Medical Center, for their vision and desire to have Kansas City looked upon as an even finer center for the treatment of children's medical problems.

It is unfortunate more hospitals, medical staffs and governing boards do not make more of an effort to find ways to join forces and facilities rather than digging in their heels and fighting joint efforts that could result in significant savings and improved medical care.


  • Speaking of congratulations, an enthusiastic congratulations and thanks should be extended to John T. Stewart of Wellington and Lawrence for his 25 years of service to Wichita's Wesley Medical Center and the Kansas Health Foundation. Stewart is credited with founding the foundation as a fund-raising arm of Wesley Medical Center after the hospital was sold in 1978.

Since that time, the foundation, which Stewart has led for the past seven years, has distributed millions of dollars to a wide range of programs throughout the state with Kansas University being one of the major recipients. Currently the foundation is awarding grants totaling about $20 million a year. Grants are directed in three primary categories: children's health, leadership and public health.

The foundation has been a tremendously positive force in the state, and Stewart has played a significant role in directing the organization to be a vital part in trying to improve the health of all Kansans.

Kansas and its citizens are healthier today because of the continuing efforts of the Health Foundation, and the foundation has encouraged hundreds, if not thousands, of Kansans to become more active in leadership positions in their communities and in the state.

Stewart " along with Marni Vliet, who serves as president and CEO of the foundation, and foundation board members " has helped make Kansas a better state and a better place in which to live, work and play.

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