Smooth transition and natural fit.
The Andover Medical Clinic switched from Via Christi to Kansas Medical Center (KMC) in April 2016. At the same time, the clinic did some building remodeling. They also hired Dr. Kari Clouse as a new physician in June.
"It's been a good transition. The community loves the hospital out there, so it was a natural fit for us to be associated with KMC. And the transition has been very smooth, and things have gone very well. We've been very pleased with the move in affiliation," Dr. Steve Lemons said.
Via Christi became fully owned by a nationwide, St. Louis-based hospital group called Ascension Health Alliance, in 2013.
"Why did we make that transition [from Via Christi to KMC]? Probably some of the philosophy changes that I saw in Via Christi that really didn't fit the hometown atmosphere of a clinic. And it became more difficult to accommodate patients, and it just was not a philosophically good fit. Although, Via Christi has treated me very well. I was associated with them for 20 years, so we had a good relationship for many years. But with the transitioning, with their being purchased by Ascension, there were just a lot of changes that occurred with that that made it difficult for practicing," Lemons said.
Since Ascension operates out of St. Louis, it made certain aspects of running a local clinic under Via Christi difficult.
"The larger the hospital group, like Ascension, they run everything from St. Louis. And so they were micromanaging all the offices, and ... if somebody quit here, it'd take us three months to replace them. So those kind of things made it really tough to function properly, and there were some other things, too, that made it tough. But, just being able to manage running a clinic locally here – making our own decisions – makes a lot of difference as far as how things work," Lemons said.
KMC has a hospital, a cardiology clinic and three primary care clinics mainly in the East Wichita area. Two of the the primary care clinics are located in Andover, and the third is in Derby.
"They're in the process of building an emergency room on the east side of Wichita as well. And so it's a growing hospital, and their influence in this area has really grown in the last five to seven years," Lemons said.
After the switch to KMC, Lemons considered hiring a new physician in June 2016.
"I knew of her [Kari Clouse] and knew our philosophy as far as practicing medicine and philosophy in life and all were very similar, and it has ended up being a very good fit .... It's just been nice. We have three PA's here, and we have Dr. Clouse and myself. And all of us have a very similar philosophy as far as how caring for patients – taking care of them as we would want to be taken care of. Sort of a Christian principle that we have in mind: being able to take care of people like we should. And all five providers show that, and that has made it a nice fit with everybody that we have here. So yeah, we have a real nice atmosphere," Lemons said.
Clouse wanted to work at the Andover Medical Clinic because of her desire for regularly helping patients.
"I had been in private practice previously and then actually worked at KU School of Medicine most recently. [I] really enjoyed my time there, but I just missed seeing patients is really what it came down to. And so, even though I loved where I was at at the school, I wanted to see patients more on a daily basis. And so, I had worked with Bridgette Pocock previously – who is one of the mid-levels here – and she was like, 'Hey, we're looking for a new physician when we do the switch-over.' And so she kind of connected me with Dr. Lemons. And quite honestly, had they been Via Christi, I don't know whether I would've considered them or not just because Via Christi's gone through a lot of changes recently. But Kansas Medical Center is a great organization, and they've done a really good job with their hospital – and I've been impressed with that. So when the opportunity came that it would be both with Dr. Lemons and potentially with Kansas Medical Center, then I was obviously excited to look into that and give it a chance," Clouse said.
She's been happy with her experience at the Andover Medical Clinic.
"Honestly, I've loved it so far. It really has been a good change. I'm married, [and] I have four boys. So there's always that balance of mom and work and whatnot. But the patients here are great. The staff – my righthand person Laura [Clark] – she's my medical assistant, and she's fantastic. We work well together. Anne [Anderson] is wonderful, our office manager. I mean, truly, it really has been a good experience. And, you know, there's always glitches here and there with things in every transition. But overall, I think that this clinic really does care about its patients, and it puts them first and wants to make sure that they get what they need. I feel like that's important, too. So it's nice to be a part of that," Clouse said.
Clouse aspires to reach the level of care that Lemons provides while working at the Andover Medical Clinic.
"Well, I hope to match what Lemons has done. I mean, honestly, he's kind of iconic around here," Clouse said.
She also wants to bring hardworking, caring Midwest values to her patient care that she's learned from being raised on a farm in Haven, Kan. Additionally, Clouse thinks she and Lemons get along well because they share a strong faith background – which she said is an integral part of the Andover Medical Clinic.
Physician Assistant Bridgette Pocock is pleased with the transition from Via Christi to KMC. Pocock has worked at the Andover Medical Clinic for two-and-a-half years and feels like she has had positive professional growth during her time there.
"It's been a very positive change. I feel like we have more freedom to practice taking care of patients – and just more independence. And patients have been very happy with the transition, too .... This has been a growing practice .... The experience I've gained here has been invaluable. I've learned a lot in this practice just because we have patients from all over surrounding towns [to] the west side of Wichita. I mean, there's a lot of patients who come here from different areas. So I get to see a lot of different patients and conditions. So I feel like I've grown a lot from a professional standpoint. And, of course, working with Dr. Lemons and Dr. Clause – they're just topnotch doctors, both of them," Pocock said.