Children’s Mercy Hospital, which opened its first clinic in Kansas nearly 30 years ago and now has eight spread across the state, has changed the name of its facility in Overland Park from Children’s Mercy South to Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas.
Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, president and CEO of the Kansas City-based pediatric hospital, announced the name change at a news conference Thursday afternoon attended by hospital staff and supporters, political dignitaries and what he called “our real bosses,” half a dozen children sprawled on the floor alongside him.
The Overland Park facility, just west of 110th Street and Nall Avenue, has grown over less than two decades to 53 beds, which along with the main hospital facility near downtown Kansas City, Missouri, combine for a total of 354 beds overall.
“This name change is more than just changing the sign outside, which will happen in the coming weeks,” O’Donnell said. “It is making a statement that this is the only hospital within the state of Kansas who is solely devoted – whose only priority – is the treatment of children.”
Children’s Mercy traces its origins to 1897 when two sisters, a dentist and physician, opened a small hospital at 15th and Cleveland in downtown Kansas City.
While the now-sprawling complex at 24th Street and Gillham Road accounts for the majority of the hospital’s visits and admissions, the Overland Park location draws patients from nearly every corner of Kansas. According to figures provided by the hospital, of 292,000 visits in 2014, nearly 85,000 were to Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas.
Children’s Mercy also operates Kansas clinics in Wichita, Junction City, Great Bend, Parsons, Pittsburg and Salina, in addition to locations in St. Joseph and Joplin, Missouri. Last year it opened an urgent care center at 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park.
The renaming comes as Children’s Mercy embarks on a campaign to renovate and expand the Overland Park facility, part of a long-range plan developed a few years ago. The plan calls for renovating and adding operating rooms, clinic space and up to 47 more beds, O’Donnell said in a brief interview after the news conference.
“See, I’ve already messed up, you caught me,” he said after inadvertently referring to the hospital by its former name, Children’s Mercy South.
O’Donnell said the hospital projects the expansion will cost between $40 million and $50 million, money which has yet to be raised.
“It’s on the drawing board and will come in due time. But it’s on the master plan of the hospital,” he said.
Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.