Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007

City leaders looking forward to medical plaza

April 26, 2007

In a town with one family doctor and one dentist, the prospect of a new medical building -- affiliated with a hospital -- is an exciting one for Eudora residents.

"We are just a 'onesy' town," said Stan Byrne, owner of Byrne's Pharmacy. "It's getting to the area where we need 'twosy.'"

More than a year ago, Lawrence Memorial Hospital announced plans to buy a 21-acre piece of property along Kansas Highway 10 in Eudora. The move signified the hospital's intent to grow its presence in the town of 5,500. It also sparked the possibility that other medical services and businesses would follow the hospital's lead.

"I'm elated about the fact that we are going to have it here," Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said.

In February, the Eudora City Council changed the zoning of the property at the southeast corner of K-10 and Church Street to allow for the new facility. And the hospital is working with engineers to bring the city's sewer system to the land.

City officials said they hope a new facility could soon prompt more growth.

Pyle said that having a medical facility in town, which would save residents the 15- to 20-minute drive to the hospital in Lawrence, could bring more manufacturing plants, businesses and families with small children.

"It is always on the back of people's mind," he said of having better health care.

More medical services in Eudora could allow for more prescriptions to be filled in town, which could lead to more pharmacies, Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said. She also sees the potential for physical therapists and specialist doctors.

Potential additions

Janice Early-Weas, LMH director of community relations, said as of now, the new building on the hospital's property would house Eudora Family Care, a practice already affiliated with the hospital. And the hospital plans to hire another physician soon.

"Beyond that, everything is just speculation," Early-Weas said.

At some point, Early-Weas said, the hospital sees the possibility for outpatient services, such as radiology, lab work and physical therapy.

An urgent-care facility is not in the short-term plans, Early-Weas said.

"That's more wishful thinking," she said. "It's just a service like that takes a lot of resources."

Pharmacy plans

Byrne, who operates the only pharmacy in town, is planning to move in next door when Eudora Family Care makes the jump to the new facility off of K-10. The two businesses stand side-by-side today on 10th Street.

In a larger building, Byrne plans to expand his offerings by bringing in more durable medical equipment, such as hospital beds, wheelchairs and oxygen tanks. He also wants to have a drive-up window.

"We've had a building in one spot for 50 years. We have to move -- that's the regular progression," Byrne said.

City, LMH hopes

Beatty hopes the opening of the LMH's facility will mean that specialists will come to town, such as podiatrists and cardiologists. With just one general practitioner in Eudora, Beatty said with "anything complicated, you have to move on."

When she worked in Kingman, Beatty said specialists were brought in monthly, which convinced some residents to stay in a more rural part of the state. While Eudora isn't having trouble with its residents migrating, the city does want people to move there, Beatty said.

"We spent a good deal of money on infrastructure, and we want to see the growth to help pay it off," Beatty said.

Early-Weas agrees that the new medical facility means good things for Eudora.

"I think any community that enjoys health services, whether it's a physician's practice or anything related to that, makes a community more attractive," Early-Weas said. "I think as the property develops and grows it will have an economic impact on Eudora."

And Early-Weas said by expanding medical services in Eudora, the city will ward off encroaching hospitals from Kansas City, who have plans for facilities in western Johnson County.

"We do want to have a message that we feel like these are our communities and we want to serve their health care needs," she said. "We would prefer them not to step foot in our backyard."

Early-Weas said she didn't know how soon the hospital would break ground on the new facility or how big the building would be. As of now, the city has just looked at site plans for the facility.

"The location and land does provide lots of opportunity for future expansion at that location," Early-Weas said.

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