Rooks County Health Center (RCH) has purchased the former Dessin Fournir Companies building at 308 W. Mill St. in Plainville. The property will be reconfigured into a multi-use site and will eventually house some of the hospital’s current business and administrative offices.
Describing the reasoning behind the acquisition, AJ Thomas, CEO of RCH explained, “We had the opportunity to purchase a beautiful building at a bank auction for a fraction of the cost it would take to build such a structure on the hospital campus. The hospital continues to grow and expand services and space is a premium. Just in the past year we added 10 full-time employees.”
According to Thomas, the initial changes to the building will enable RCH to provide a safe living space for RCH staff if they have family members in quarantine who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Eventually these living spaces will house medical students who train at RCH as well as visiting physicians.
Since opening its new facility north of Plainville in 2008, RCH has expanded its role not only within the county, but also throughout northwest Kansas, drawing many to Rooks County for services. A new MRI/Nuclear Medicine suite opened in 2015 followed by a new Rehabilitation Center completed last November. In the last 15 years RCH has added nearly 50 full-time employees to the payroll.
This is the second off-campus purchase for the hospital. In 2014 RCH purchased the JJ’s Auto lot on the north side of the intersection of Hwy.183 and Hwy.18. The hospital remodeled the property into a multi-use space. According to Thomas the property is offered rent-free for county EMS and EMT training, as well as economic development meetings. It also houses the vans for the Rooks County Transportation System while the French Press coffee house leases the smaller building.
The funds to enable the purchase of the downtown property came from a hospital-specific program created by the federal CARES Act, which is administered by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
While nearly 1 million dollars from a different federal program were made available to Rooks County some months ago, RCH declined to request any portion of those funds in favor of that money flowing through to schools, nursing home facilities and other county entities for their response to COVID-19.
Although RCH is considered tax exempt, the hospital did not seek a tax exemption on its first acquisition and according to Thomas they do not intend to seek an exemption for its latest purchase. RCH pays approximately $5,300 a year in property tax on the JJ’s lot and expects to pay about $10,000 a year in tax on the new site.