Kimball – Kimball Health Services (KHS) leadership on Thursday, Jan. 13, announced a $2.2 million fundraising campaign to complete funding for a new hospital in Kimball opening in the fall of 2023.

Standing on the site where the hospital will be constructed, officials announced a lead gift of $500,000 from Bonnie Risk to kick off the fundraising campaign. Her contribution brings the private gifts committed to $1.5 million.

Risk has been a longtime advocate for Kimball Health Services and is a member of the Kimball Hospital Foundation. “In all its simplicity, gratitude and blessings, it is an honor to give back to the community of Kimball for everything the community has given to the Risk family. I can only be of example and lead by example so that others will follow suit for the sake of Kimball’s bright future,” Risk said.

Jim Cederburg leads the “Advancing Healthcare for Our Communities” campaign. “It is pleasing to witness the widespread support for a new hospital in our service area,” Cederburg said. “Bonnie’s gift is significant and has motivated other donors to make large gifts. We have several people who have pledged to support the new hospital and have selected naming opportunities ranging from a concrete bench--which will be part of the landscaping--to the lobby. To date, these naming opportunities have ranged from $5,000 to $500,000. In fact, we have a minor dilemma because all of the $100,000 naming opportunities have been spoken for. We will be offering additional $100,000 naming opportunities soon.”

Risk, KHS Medical Director Dr. James Broomfield and Joel Wiens have agreed to serve as honorary chairs for the campaign. Additional members of the campaign committee include: Sharon King-Baker, Shane Hays, Kara Fornstrom, Dave Haack, Tim Nolting, Stephanie Pedersen, Lindsay Forepaugh and Shavonne Singleton.

Ken Hunter, KHS Chief Executive Officer, said expanding KHS’s ability to offer critical access care services in the Kimball area will be essential for the maintenance and growth of the entire area. “Approximately 72 years ago, the citizens of Kimball invested in a hospital and just look at the benefits we have reaped,” Hunter said. “Great doctors like Dr. Plate, Dr. Shamburg and Dr. Broomfield and nurses like Joyce Sorensen, Judy Heilbrun and Elise Berger have delivered thousands of babies and saved countless lives.

“As Warren Buffet once said, ‘Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.’ Times may have changed; however, Buffett’s quote is just as true today as it was when our Kimball ancestors invested in our hospital 72 years ago. So plant a tree and help us build this new hospital by contributing to the Kimball Hospital Foundation,” Hunter said.

Paul Whiting, Senior Vice President of Facilities Engineering for Clean Harbors Environmental Services agrees with Hunter. “We believe the availability of quality preventative and emergency healthcare in a community is one of the cornerstones to attracting and retaining a strong workforce,” Whiting said in a statement. “Likewise, we understand a key to attracting and retaining a skilled medical staff locally is providing a quality facility and equipment. The renovation and expansion plans the Kimball Hospital Foundation has shared with us will make this hospital and health resources very positive attributes for new employees contemplating a move to the area,

particularly if they come from a more urban setting. Thus, we were more than happy to support this forward thinking project financially as we see it as not only as very beneficial to our current employees but a key to attracting and maintaining the workforce growth the community will need over the next several years.”

Cederburg commended the KHS doctors, nurses and other staff members who have provided input for the design of the facilities that include new emergency rooms, clinic exam rooms, operating rooms, physical and occupational therapy spaces and patient rooms.

“We look forward to a new hospital that is triple in size compared to our present 70-year-old facility. It will provide the space needed to enhance healthcare for our communities by providing additional services in a facility designed to meet our healthcare needs,” stated Cederburg.

The new facility will provide up-to-date, private patient areas, as well as spaces that are more functional and attractive for the medical and support staff members. It will also provide space to bring additional specialized medical services. The new facility will accommodate visiting specialists for mammography, cardiac rehab, chemotherapy infusions, orthopedic procedures, MRI services and expanded surgical options.

Kerry Ferguson, Director of Community Relations and Executive Director of the Foundation, said the Kimball area’s residents and businesses recognize the need for this facility. “This project directly impacts our quality of life and people recognize that their gifts will help us provide the best care possible close to home,” Ferguson said. “KHS supports itself thru its own profits and donations from the Foundation. The Advancing Healthcare for Our Communities campaign will require contributions of all sizes to meet our goal.”

Construction is estimated to begin in May on the nearly 60,000 square foot hospital on what was the West Elementary School grounds. According to Hunter, initial estimates put the cost of the project at over $32 million, although that figure has risen with increasing costs of materials and services and is expected to put the final price tag at over $40 million.

The project is being financed with a 40-year U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, $6.4 million in 25-year bond funding which is expected to be repaid with hospital revenues, and funds raised in the capital campaign. Area banks are assisting with bond anticipation notes to fund the construction. While the hospital is governed by the Kimball County Board of Commissioners, Cederburg said no tax funding should be needed to pay off the loan and bonds. In addition, the hospital is seeking a USDA Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant to improve the hospital’s COVID-19 and other infection response capabilities, which include modernized air handling systems, isolation rooms and increased physical distancing in patient waiting areas.

KHS serves more than 11,000 people in the Nebraska Panhandle, northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. In the year ending July 2020, it served more than 3,500 patients in the hospital and more than 4,650 in its Kimball and Pine Bluffs, Wyo. clinics. In the decade ending in 2020, KHS saw significant service increases including:

• 65 percent increase in specialty clinic visits,

• 10 percent increase in rural health clinic visits

• 13 percent increase in rehab services

• 50 percent increase in imaging services

• 24 percent increase in hospital discharges

• 10 percent increase in rural health clinic visits

• Surgeries increased from 16 to 303 in 3 years