Panda Pediatrics to merge with Heartland Community Health Center

photo by: Ashley Golledge/Journal-World File Photo

The entrance to Heartland Community Health Center, 346 Maine St., Suite 150, is shown Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

A Lawrence pediatric health care center plans to merge with an expanding nonprofit health care provider early next year.

Panda Pediatrics and Heartland Community Health Center announced the merger in a press release Wednesday and said the move will provide more unified access to integrated adolescent and pediatric health care in the community.

The merger, which will take effect in January 2021, will include the acquisition of Panda Pediatrics’ building at 1803 W. Sixth St. Panda’s services will remain at the Sixth Street location, which is close to the location of Heartland’s current expansion project at 1312 W. Sixth St. Neither organization anticipates any disruptions to patient care during the merger.

“We are excited to be a part of a project that will allow us to serve our current patients, Douglas County and surrounding counties in ways that neither practice could have done independently,” Lucas Houk, Panda Pediatrics practice administrator, said in the press release. “The future of integrated and comprehensive healthcare from birth through adulthood for all is exciting and we are pleased to be partnering with Heartland on the leading edge of that change in our community.”

Heartland and Panda said they have been discussing a merger since 2019. Heartland’s status as a federally qualified health center was one of the reasons the organizations decided to merge, according to the release. As a FQHC, Heartland is able to leverage federal dollars and has less reliance on state and local funding, “creating a more sustainable and quality-driven business model that expands capacity for the insured and uninsured, alike,” the release said.

Robyn Coventon, chief executive officer at Heartland, said in an email to the Journal-World that no jobs would be lost as a result of the merger. Under the new structure, Houk will serve as a transition leader and remain as Panda Pediatrics practice administrator. He will also become a chief administration officer at Heartland. Coventon will remain in her position.

“In collaborating, partnering, and dreaming together, Heartland Community Health Center and Panda Pediatrics will continue to honor the legacy Panda brings in being the pediatric provider of choice for Douglas County for the past forty plus years, and we will continue to honor Heartland’s mission of providing comprehensive, integrated care for all in our community,” Coventon said in the release. “Our role as the Community’s Health Center is only strengthened by the addition of the high quality, trusted care Panda has been providing for years.”

Earlier this year, Heartland also announced a merger with the Douglas County Dental Clinic. That clinic is expected to move to Heartland’s expanded Sixth Street location once completed, the Journal-World previously reported.


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