Reasons to Choose: Health Care and Community Services


When you think about health-care delivery in the Kansas City market, you’re talking about more than just a metro area. It’s a robust network of hospitals—non-profit and for-profit acute-care facilities, independent health authorities and municipally owned medical centers, community hospitals, pediatric care and research facilities, stand-alone specialty hospitals, clinics and more.

And it serves not just the nearly 2.2 million residents of the greater Kansas  City area, but a four-state area with 14 million residents, and often, patients from across the nation. And thanks to major advances in funding, and mission certification in recent years, the region is
witnessing explosive growth in medical research.

The additional research functions  in this market are led by a quartet of institutions: The University of Kansas Health System, with its National Cancer Institute-level work in that field; HCA Midwest Health, with its neuroscience and cancer institutes;Saint Luke’s Health System, with its Mid-America Heart Institute and cardiovascular research; and Children’s Mercy Kansas City, in the middle of a $200 million construction project for a pediatric research tower.

Is all of this too much of a good thing? Perhaps: Most hospital administrators will admit that in the current state of health-care economics, this region has too many hospital beds. But for consumers, that translates into fierce competition and abundant choices for hospital
care. Beds at the region’s medical facilities, combined, number more 5,000, and many of those belong to HCA Midwest Health.

This sprawling network of facilities has eight full-service hospitals in the market, plus a psychiatric hospital, and they range from urban hospitals like Research Medical Center to suburban facilities like Lee’s Summit Medical Center, and two major facilities in Johnson County—Menorah Medical Center and Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Another health-care heavyweight here is Truman Medical Centers. A teaching hospital aligned with the University of Missouri-Kansas City and its schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry, Truman is a two-facility system. The main hospital has a unique mission, as it serves the urban core in Kansas City (from its 248-bed facility on Hospital Hill) and suburban Jackson County, with its even larger 298-bed
Truman-Lakewood campus near Lee’s Summit.

Children’s Mercy is also a teaching hospital, drawing patients from across the nation and is now engaged in key pediatric-research initiatives, with some particularly noteworthy advances in the field of pediatric pharmacology.

The region is rined by major health care anchors like Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, which has been a leader in the field of population health efforts to engage patients in ways that encourage  greater self-responsibility for managing their own wellness, not just their occasional

Topeka now stands poised to reposition itself as a health-care magnet for the state of Kansas: Last year, the University of Kansas Health System and a for-profit partner, Ardent, jointly acquired St. Francis Health Center, which had been struggling financially and put
up for sale by the Sisters of Charity of  Leavenworth. With the resources of the state’s largest hospital now behind it, St. Francis will challenge the considerably  larger Stormont Vail Health to offer care for northeast Kansas and beyond.

Saint Luke’s Health System, best known for its major medical center on the Country Club Plaza, has suburban satellites in Overland Park,  Lee’s Summit and the Northland, along with smaller community hospitals. And one of the region’s busiest, in terms of patient volumes,
is North Kansas City Hospital, serving an area well beyond its immediate territory north of the Missouri River. 

In Johnson County, which has been adding at least 10,000 residents a year for more than three decades, the appetite for health-care
services continues to grow, creating opportunities for twin pillars of care there AdventHealth Shawnee Mission and Olathe Health, both of
which in recent years have rebranded from their hospital-centric identities as they expand services into the wellness realm.

Against that backdrop, the missions of the institutions themselves have evolved, with health-care research emerging as a prime area of growth for the larger facilities. 

With additional research muscle coming from institutions like MRIGlobal, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, the regional life-sciences community has swelled to more than 2,000 scientists working with $550 million in annual research spending.

And it’s not just about the people or the money invested from the public and non-profit universe. Kansas City straddles some of the nation’s largest value chains in agricultural production, so research in animal health and plant sciences—and the relationships between those three lines of study—is a field of research fraught with possibilities that have attracted a small army of for-profit research organizations.

Consider: Companies based in the zone between Manhattan, Kan., and Columbia, Mo., account for nearly one-third of a $19 billion global market in the animal-health sector. That’s a lot of inquiry into the Next Big Thing. Those opportunities in both human and animal
health have positioned the region for long-term growth.