Bridging the Great Health Divide: Providing specialty health care in West Plains

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 7:15 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Getting specialized medical care in rural parts of the Ozarks often means traveling for hours.\. One healthcare provider is working to expand and improve services.

“We watched the construction people coming and going for all these years and wondered what they’re doing in there all the time,” said Helen Johsnon.

She received her answer Monday. Ozarks Healthcare opened its newest facility on its West Plains campus. The nearly 100,000 square foot medical office building houses 20 different specialty services.

Josh Reeves, the organization’s vice president of development said, “The was not only the biggest expansion in our organization’s history but this was the biggest building, facility construction project in the history of south-central Missouri.”

The three-story space is home to doctors focusing on neuroscience, heart, and lungs, orthopedics and spine care, and more.

“Any help that we wanted we received, including the USDA Rural Development financing the bulk of the construction project,” said Reeves.

For the thousands of people in this part of Missouri and parts of northern Arkansas, this is much more than a building.

“Our role is to make sure that we can provide all of the health care services that people might need here,” said president and CEO Tom Keller.

The hospital and medical center offer people in this rural part of the state life-saving options.

“Frankly we can do things close to home. Somebody has a heart attack we can get them into a lab here within 20 minutes from the time they walk in versus having to travel to a big city that’s an hour and a half, two hours away,” said Keller.

Soon the services will stretch beyond the campus.

“We’re in the process of completing the purchase of a mobile mammography unit that will travel to all of these local communities. Sometimes it’s hard for women to take time. They live 45 miles away. They’ve got to take off work to come over here. We’re going to try to take the care closer to them,” explained Keller.

Johnson says this latest expansion means a lot to her community.

“I grew up in a very rural area. I know that they appreciate all of this wonderful hospital service,” she said.

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