In a room packed with St. Catherine Hospital staff, Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce members and community leaders, Garden Citians celebrated the recent opening of the hospital’s renovated Women’s Clinic, now located on the first floor of the Medical Building at 310 E. Walnut St.

In 2017, Garden City’s spring blizzard brought down the roof of the former Women’s Clinic on south Main Street, making the building entirely uninhabitable, said Scott Taylor, St. Catherine CEO. Since then, the clinic’s staff and patients have been nomads, quickly setting up shop near the hospital’s emergency room and ultimately moving to a slightly larger space on the fourth floor of the campus’ Medical Building.

The change was significant to the clinic’s staff, said Stephanie Waggoner, regional director of operations. Physicians went from having 15 exam rooms in the original space to nine near the ER and eventually about 12 on the fourth floor of the Medical Building. The new clinic beats them all with 17, and it makes a difference, she said.

“Having this space, it seems like it’s huge, like it’s a mansion compared to what we’ve been in over the years,” Waggoner said.

The new clinic is about the same size as the original clinic at 10,000 square feet, but about 1,000 square feet in the old facility was used for storing physical medical records, none of which were lost in the blizzard, Taylor said. With the records digitized, space now is freed up for more exam rooms, Waggoner said.

Besides the exam rooms, the clinic has two nurses stations, two procedure rooms, two ultrasound rooms, two non-stress test rooms and a room where mothers can breastfeed in privacy, as well as a lobby and office space, Waggoner said.

When designing the building, Waggoner said contractors worked to correct issues present in the original and temporary clinics. Exam rooms and nursing stations were made more spacious in the interest of efficiency and patient comfort, she said. Where it was easy to overhear information in the old clinic, the new one added white noise to patient rooms and nursing stations to ensure privacy, she said.

The clinic currently services the existing staff, with the option to grow, Waggoner said. Should the hospital need it in the future, the space also can accommodate another provider and ultrasound machine, she said.

The new clinic offers the same obstetric and gynecological services as the original one, Waggoner said, including everything from prenatal care to a baby’s delivery and primary care for women’s health. With more examination space and the possibility of eventually adding another provider, the true goal of the renovated clinic is to see more patients, she said.

Before and after renovations, the clinic serves all of western Kansas, facilitating about 12,000 visits over the last fiscal year, Waggoner said. For many regional rural communities, including some in northwestern Oklahoma and eastern Colorado, it fills a valuable need for women’s health, she said.

With three gynecologists, a physician's assistant and a nurse practitioner, along with the rest of its staff, the clinic is “the largest women’s clinic solely dedicated to women’s health in western Kansas,” Taylor said. The upgraded facility and new equipment adds to that, he said.

“This will be the nicest women’s clinic in the region for sure," Taylor said. "It sets the bar for women’s health in western Kansas."

The clinic opens alongside ongoing renovations at the hospital’s Sienna Medical Clinic, which is building a new community pharmacy on its first floor and moving its pediatrics clinic to the second floor, both expected to open in August or early September, Taylor said.

The renovations are the first of a two- to three-year “cascade” of facility improvements to Sienna, he said. Ultimately the entire building will be updated.

Patients will still be seen normally throughout the process, he said.

The hospital itself has for years been in a constant state of periodical facility upgrades, including renovations to the emergency department, acute rehabilitation and cancer centers, and patient towers.

“All our physicians and providers deserve space like we built at the Women’s Clinic, and it’s our intention to give it to them,” Taylor said. “It’s a constant commitment to upgrade our facilities and make sure that we’re the state-of-the-art medical care center for western Kansas.”

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.