As part of a new 15-acre medical campus in Derby, Kansas, Rock Regional Hospital is scheduled to begin accepting patients March 20 and construction is set to begin that same month on the first of two office buildings, according to project officials.
Derby, the largest suburb of Wichita with a population of more than 22,000, has become a competitive marketplace for health care in recent years. In 2016, a MedExpress urgent care facility opened and Wichita-based Wesley Medical Center opened a free-standing emergency room that already has been expanded. Most of the city’s healthcare facilities — from the long-time Derby Family MedCenter practice to the new Rock Regional Hospital — are located in about a two-mile stretch of a major thoroughfare, Rock Road.
The new medical campus, at 3251 N. Rock Road, will include two medical office buildings in addition to the nearly 90,000-square-foot hospital. The first office building will be 25,000 square feet, says Mike Belew, Executive Vice President of Development with the Kansas City-based CBC Real Estate Group. The building, slated for completion in August, is already 90 percent leased, he says. The second office building will be a two-story, 50,000-square-foot facility; expectations are to break ground in the fall, Belew says.
Rock Regional Hospital will be Derby’s first hospital, and its CEO, Jason Eitutis, likes to say it’s been 150 years in the making, playing off the fact that Derby is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year. Eitutis is a retired Air Force Colonel; the last position in his nearly 22-year military career was Commander of the medical group at McConnell Air Force Base, a few miles north of Derby. Until Rock Regional Hospital opens, the closest full-service hospitals for Derby residents are Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita, about 12 miles north of Derby, and Sumner Medical Center in Wellington, about 25 miles south.
Rock Regional Hospital will feature four operating rooms, two cardiac catherization labs, two procedure rooms, a six-bed ER and 31 acute care beds, with seven being in intensive care and the other 24 being med/surg rooms, Eitutis says. It will provide care in 17 specialties, including cardiology, orthopedics, pain management, pulmonary medicine and advanced imaging, according to rockregionalhospitalderby.com.
The hospital will staff about 175 employees and will credential about 50 physicians with access privileges, Eitutis says. David Niederee, MD, a longtime family medicine physician with Derby Family MedCenter who is well-known in the community, will be the Medical Staff Director.
Dr. Niederee and three other local physicians — Mark Niederee, MD, a general surgeon with Wichita Surgical Specialists; Justin Strickland, MD, with Mid-America Orthopedics; and Jason Tauke, MD, with Cardiovascular Consultants of Kansas — are part of the hospital’s governing board. Day-to-day operations are handled by Dallas-based Candor Healthcare.
The for-profit hospital is owned by Rock Medical Assets, comprising local investors, real estate developers and private capital firms. The group also owns Rock Surgery Center, an existing ambulatory center purchased from Derby Family Medicine in 2018.
In October, Ascension Via Christi inked a deal with Rock Medical Assets for 25 percent ownership, a move that made sense, according to all parties, because of the geographical location of both the hospital and surgery center near Spirit AeroSystems — a major employer in south Wichita. Ascension Via Christi is the preferred network provider for employees insured by Spirit.
“The neat thing [that ownership] does for Rock Regional Hospital is that it allows us to integrate with Kansas’ largest healthcare network and additionally it helps us serve this community because of the relationship they have with Spirit employees,” Eitutis says. “It allows Spirit employees who are Derby residents to have easier access to quality, affordable health care.”
Belew says that in addition to the hospital and medical office building, developers are also exploring a skilled nursing facility or an inpatient rehab facility.
The medical campus development is part of a $24 million STAR (sales tax revenue) bond district in Derby, with the bonds being paid off by sales tax revenue generated within the designated tax district as a way to reinvest in the community.