LAKIN, Kansas – Rural areas of Kansas can really struggle with access to primary healthcare.
For those living in Southwest Kansas, hospitals can struggle with simply having enough staff to support the population.
“We’re a dangerously under-served area for primary care,” said Benjamin Anderson, the CEO of Kearny County Hospital.
When Benjamin Anderson says that, he’s talking about Southwest Kansas.
But Kearny County Hospital is the exception to the rule.
The hospital hired six medical providers this fall and he says they will continue to hire more until the demand for primary care is met.
“The other thing that drew me to Kearny County Hospital though, was the extreme need of the community and surrounding communities for primary care,” said Drew Miller, a family physician at the hospital.
What’s bringing doctors to the Kearny County Hospital is the incentive for extended time off to travel to other countries like Haiti and India on social justice-driven missions and then bringing those experiences back to the hospital in Southwest Kansas.
“It’s particularly effective in a multicultural setting like Garden City or in Southwest Kansas because by going oversees, our medical providers really are equipping themselves to serve locally,” Anderson said.
“I think it’s starting to blossom and flourish,” said Arlo Reimer, the chief medical officer at the hospital.
“We moved to Southwest Kansas because of that program,” said Lacey Mollel, the medical staff coordinator at Kearny County Hospital.
Mollel was born in Kansas but grew up in Tanzania.
This program is especially important to her.
“We remain very active even when we’re not there in helping establish a better healthcare system for them,” Mollel said.
She says it benefits those overseas and helps give perspective and meaning to the doctors that come back to Kearny County.
“When you make yourself vulnerable enough to get to know someone where they are at, you are extremely capable of treating them in a more dignified and loving way,” Mollel said.
Anderson also says that several other Southwest community hospitals have jumped on-board with the method, like Satanta, Tribune and Scott City.
He says it’s a community effort with one goal: to elevate primary healthcare in rural Kansas.