Patterson Health Center Designed to Transform Rural Healthcare in Kansas, Focuses on Wellness

Named in memory of Neal Patterson, co-founder and former CEO of Cerner

KANSAS CITY, MO – July 16, 2019 – Nationally recognized design and planning firm Gould Evans, in partnership with Kahler Slater’s team of Medical Planning Consultants, has designed the newly completed Patterson Health Center in rural Harper County, Kansas. The 62,500-square-foot facility unites two formerly separate critical access hospitals under one distinctive roof that pays homage to neighboring communities coming together.

The design of Patterson Health Center responds to the county’s need for a new, cost-effective and resilient model of rural healthcare that promotes a community of wellness. Despite being deemed crucial to a community’s health and financial success, 20% of existing rural American hospitals have been identified as at-risk of closure due to the economic stresses of population decline, outdated facilities, and shrinking healthcare reimbursements. In response to these challenges, the design team led stakeholders through a hands-on, interactive virtual reality process to co-create a space that embodies efficiency, flexibility, and healing.

“This building saves our rural community from potentially losing a hospital or two. The unique merging of two critical access hospitals into one efficient, well-organized, patient-centered facility could become a national model. It provides resiliency against the constantly shrinking resources we’re seeing nationwide,” said Pat Patton, CEO, Patterson Health Center.

The project is significantly funded and inspired by the Patterson Family Foundation, created by the late Neal Patterson, a Harper County native and co-founder and former CEO of Cerner.

“The last conversation I had with Neal was coincidentally about this project,” said Anthony Rohr, National Managing Principal, Gould Evans. “Neal often compared farmers with entrepreneurs. He believed design and technology were not at odds with rural values, but instead had a shared ability to strengthen the agrarian principles of planning, adaptability, and hard work. Patterson Health Center strives to embody and support its community and place.”

The hospital design is inspired by the joining of two communities, Harper and Anthony, KS. It is deliberately sited between the towns and adjacent to their shared Chaparral High School. The distinctive roof form, resembling a heartbeat, opens on its north and south ends to reach out to each community and create a new identity for their merged facility. The material choice of reflective, standing seam metal roofing references contextual agrarian structures and its lightness conveys a tranquil wellness space. The darker metal panel façade emphasizes voids of light and transparency that highlight the care happening within. Entrances are marked with native western red cedar, which wraps into the main entrance and guides guests into a vaulted lobby that connects with the light-filled main circulatory path. Full swaths of vertical glass in perimeter spaces and every inpatient suite connect visitors to the earth and sky. Furthermore, clearstory and skylights provide additional daylight to spaces typically buried within hospitals, including main circulation paths, nurse stations, staff areas, and lab spaces.

The center provides access to education, prevention, and long-term wellness by combining a health clinic with various spaces traditionally associated with a community center — an indoor/outdoor café and a large greenspace for health fairs, farmers’ markets, and fitness events. The adjacent high school will soon offer a health-centered curriculum with introductory heathcare job training programs, sports medicine classes, and wellness programs to improve teenage health.

“It is intentionally called a health center, not a hospital,” said Martha Hadsall, Board Chair, Patterson Health Center. “The building offers tons of natural light, beautiful views of the prairie, and access to new and expanded services — truly a place for our communities to gather and lead the transformation of rural healthcare.”

Operational innovations of the new facility include:

  • An inpatient care unit with 10 large, private bedrooms where a family member can stay overnight. The remaining three semi-private rooms will be licensed as patient beds for peaks in census and will also be used for multiple procedures, such as outpatient infusions and same-day surgery prep/recovery beds. The nurse stations for the inpatient unit and the four-room ED are interconnected to efficiently operate the two services and allow staff to easily flow between the two services.
  • A 22-exam-room clinic connected to the critical access hospital, which features an Integrated Care Team clinic delivery model to provide the greatest flexibility in response to the changing healthcare landscape. This model brings patient rooms, staff working areas, and service provider offices together in one place. It creates a centralized, “off-stage” space that allows staff to collaborate and move efficiently, ultimately enhancing care coordination and the patient experience.
  • An 18-equipment-station outpatient rehabilitation gym with several private treatment rooms and an in-ground hydrotherapy pool will provide physical, occupational, and cardiopulmonary therapies for outpatients. A separate fitness center is available for staff members.
  • A new cafe offering locally grown produce and healthy menu options offers indoor and outdoor dining options. It hopes to serve not only patients, staff, and visitors to the health center, but also provide another dining opportunity to the public.

The health center is rich in new healthcare technologies to improve workflow and efficiency, including electronic outpatient registration, digital patient tracking, telemedicine capabilities for clinic and trauma patients, automated medication dispensing units, and contemporary surgical and diagnostic imaging equipment.

Future campus plans include a fitness center, community center, community gardens, and a trail system. The project is a collaboration between Gould Evans, Kahler Slater, McCownGordon Construction, Grand Construction, and Hospital Districts #5 and 6 of Harper County, Kansas.

A grand opening ceremony for the Patterson Health Center will be held on July 19, 2019, at 1:00 p.m.

Liz Thelen-Torres
Business Development Director
415.503.1411 x1130

High-resolution renderings and photos are available for download here.

Gould Evans
Gould Evans’ award-winning designs are recognized for their specificity to people and place. Our diverse portfolio of architecture stems from a design process that starts with the client’s goals. We share a passion for regional architecture and design that positively impacts our communities. Learn more at

Kahler Slater
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