Health Direct - Summer 2019 - 15

By John Berggren

Sunflower Health Network
Grows to 27 Members


he Sunflower Health Network
added nine new member
hospitals this year, bringing
the total to 27 full members, making it the largest group of affiliated
hospitals in the state. The mission
of the network, primarily located
in north central and northwestern
Kansas, is to improve effectiveness
and efficiency of healthcare delivery
in the region.
The organization also provides
access to group purchasing, service
contracts, health insurance, scholarships, department director education
and a shared staff pool.
"The changing dynamics in the state for rural healthcare and the need to aggregate our volumes and pool our
resources have led to the Sunflower Health Network's
growth," says Randy Lott, executive director of affiliate
affairs at Salina Regional Health Center. "This is probably
the single greatest amount of hospital realignment Kansas
has seen in the last 20 years."


Working together
New members are Citizens Medical Center, Colby; Clara
Barton Hospital, Hoisington; Gove County Medical Center,
Quinter; Graham County Hospital, Hill City; Ness County
Hospital District No. 2, Ness City; Norton County Hospital,
Norton; Rooks County Health Center, Plainville; Rush
County Memorial Hospital, LaCrosse; and Sheridan County
Health Complex, Hoxie.
The growth has already allowed hospitals to see savings
in group purchasing of supplies and better rates for services contracts.
Networking among peers and shared staff education
on the latest trends in healthcare are often seen as some
of the most valuable resources provided by the network.
Department directors in nursing, information technology,
materials managers, lab, quality, emergency preparedness,
pharmacy, dietary and clinic managers regularly meet to discuss best practices and the latest changes in healthcare.
"The collaboration between all the hospitals in this group
is what's really extraordinary," says Jim Blackwell, president/
CEO at Clara Barton Hospital. "It starts with the administrators and filters down to all the other department leaders

Twenty-seven members from 25 Kansas counties now
belong to the Sunfl ower Health Network.

from our facilities. When you can put this many heads
together to discuss common initiatives and best practices, all
of us see the benefits."

Meeting regional needs
Strategic issues the network has taken on in the past have
included efforts for emergency preparedness, improved
access to behavioral health services, facilitating patient
transfers between hospitals and improving patient care for
common conditions such as sepsis, chest pain, trauma and
stroke. The network is currently considering initiatives that
include enhancing the region's healthcare workforce with
more shared staff among hospitals.
"Our regional trends with workforce are very daunting,"
says Gina Frack, CEO at Norton County Hospital. "Shortages
of licensed staff affect us all. Many of the issues we face
in this environment require that we come together for
our survival."
The network was founded in 1994 by area hospitals to
focus on managed care and integration, finance, planning,
information systems, shared technology and services, and
recruitment and retention. 1

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Health Direct - Summer 2019

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