WHC welcomes new Heritage Senior Behavioral Health program director

After spending two years as a therapist for the Heritage Senior Behavioral Health program at Wamego Health Center, Karen Knappenberger recently assumed duties as its program director. Before coming to Wamego, she spent almost seven years as the social work supervisor for the Midland Care Program of All Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE).

Born and raised in Wyoming, attending Kansas State University brought Karen to Kansas in 2000. Karen holds a Bachelor’s degree in theater, with an emphasis in Drama Therapy, and a secondary major Gerontology. She received her Master’s in Social Welfare from the University of Kansas where she also focused on aging studies.

Karen is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker and focuses on providing behavioral health services to older adults and families. She is also a Registered Drama Therapist and Board Certified Trainer through the North American Drama Therapy Association. Karen specializes in providing aging services and mental health.

She spent 3 years as an Outreach Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, a Social Work Coordinator for the Midland Care Program of All Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) and several years as a therapist for Florence Crittenton Services in Topeka.

Karen lives with her husband and kids in Topeka. She is an avid runner and has completed two marathons and 17 half marathons. She is currently serving her second term as the Treasurer for the North American Drama Therapy Association’s Board of Directors. She enjoys cheering for her children at soccer and basketball games, attending theater shows and riding really fast roller coasters.

Wamego Health Center will host health fair

Join Wamego Health Center and community partners during a Health Fair from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 22 at Wamego Health Center, 711 Genn Drive, Wamego. All services will be provided at no cost.

Services provided will include blood pressure and glucose screenings, information about clinical offerings at Wamego Health Center, behavioral health, financial assistance, advanced directives, healthy living and prescription management. A drug self-disposal station will also be available to allow community members to safely dispose of expired medication. Wamego Health Center’s very own Chef Dustin Cherry will provide a live cooking demonstration, using healthy food and in-season produce.

Community partners will provide:
• Vision screenings will be available for children and adults, age 20 and younger.
• Disposal of personal eye glasses.
• Pottawatomie County and Wamego emergency vehicles will be on site for demonstrations.
• A LifeStar helicopter will be on site.
• Bike safety and helmet fittings.

Community celebrates Wamego Health Center upgrade during ribbon-cutting ceremony

Community members and hospital associates gathered Friday to celebrate the completion of Wamego Health Center’s year long construction project. Attendees also joined the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

During the past year, every department in the facility was impacted by the $11 million project, according to Steve Land, Wamego Health Center administrator. The project included some aesthetic upgrades, but also included new equipment, relocation of services, security measures and improvements to aid in patient flow.

Via Christi’s partnership with the City of Wamego and Wamego Health Center is a testament to how partnerships can be successful, said Mike Mullins, Via Christi Health CEO and Ascension’s Kansas and Oklahoma Ministry Market leader.

“The role that the Wamego community has on Via Christi is huge,” he said. “The work that you all have done has been impressive. When you walk through this facility, it’s an amazing place. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. When you look at that partnership that Via Christi has with Ascension — and that comes back to Wamego — we’re proving that we can be part of a national ministry but we can still get things done on a local level.”

“To the people who work here — Wamego Health Center has been a leader on doing things the right way for a long time,” Mullins continued. “They lead our company in patient satisfaction and we’re very proud of that fact. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a big impact.”

Land thanked Mullins for his support during the project.

“We’re extremely appreciative for his leadership for all of Via Christi, but we’re especially appreciative for the attention he gives Wamego,” he said. “I could not have anticipated a better outcome than what we have today.”

The overhaul was long overdue, Land said, adding that the last upgrade took place in the 1970s. The project would not have been successful without the support and patience of the local community, and the dedication of the various board members involved and Wamego Health Center’s associates.

“There have been so many donors that made this project possible,” he said. “The blue wall in the entry way will be our donor wall where we can thank all of our generous donors.”

Steve Land, Wamego Health Center administrator, thanks the community, associates and Via Christi and Ascension leaders for their support during the construction project.

Mike Mullins, Via Christi Health CEO and Ascension’s Kansas and Oklahoma Ministry Market leader, addresses ceremony attendees.

Fr. Mike Peterson, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, says a prayer and offers a blessing during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.


New Heritage Building opens for business

Community leaders and hospital personnel gathered April 5 to unveil the new Heritage Building on the Wamego Health Center campus.

The Heritage Building houses the area’s only senior behavioral health service and serves the Wamego and surrounding communities.

“When we started this project, a lot of community members came and asked me what was going in this building,” said Steve Land, Wamego Health Center administrator.

“As we go through any phase of life we go through different health issues, including emotional and mental issues,” he continued. “Not every community has this type of program. We are extremely blessed to have this our team of providers here.”

Wamego’s senior behavioral health program cares for only Medicaid patients, according to Bob Copple, Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan president.

“Geriatric behavioral health is few and far between in Kansas,” he said. “There’s a huge shortage and we don’t have enough resources in our state.”

The senior behavioral health program moved from Manhattan to Wamego several years ago, Copple added.

“That was a way to protect a program, support it and allow it to continue,” he said. “It’s important for people to realize that this is a key service. We are serving our region and we should be proud of that.”

“One of the great things about this program is we actually have the funding to transport patients here for care,” Copple explained, adding that the new building brings in a home-like feel to patients because the environment where a person is being treated matters.

Wamego Health Center receives clinical awards for excellence

Wamego Health Center was recognized by Professional Research Consultants, a third-party organization that gathers patient satisfaction data, for earning a five-star rating in nine categories.

The categories include:

  • Inpatient Services – Communication with Doctors
  • Inpatient Services – Discharge Information
  • Inpatient Services – Overall Rating
  • Inpatient Services – Communication about Medications
  • Inpatient Services – Communication with Nurses
  • Inpatient Services – Hospital Environment
  • Inpatient Services – Responsiveness of Staff
  • Emergency Department Services – Overall Quality of Care

“This achievement can be attributed to our team’s dedication to compassionate care that is individualized for each of our patients,” said Steve Land, WHC administrator. “We are a small town hospital and we care for our friends, families and neighbors every day.”

“From the leadership team to our associates in direct patient care roles to our hospitality and environmental teams, we are engaged and focused on providing excellent patient care,” he continued.

Wamego nurse graduates from KHA Leadership Institute

Ryan Jackson, RN, was one of 32 nurses from across the state to complete the Kansas Hospital Association Leadership Institute last month. He works in Wamego Health Center’s cardiac rehabilitation department and serves as the hospital’s risk manager,

The program took place in Wichita and spanned from July through September, and aims at training clinical and nonclinical leaders who work at Kansas hospitals.

“The students represented a variety of departments – staff nurses, radiology techs on up to chief financial officers from very small critical access hospitals to larger 500+ bed organizations,” Jackson explained.

“We had a variety of instructors from a variety of industries who all had decades of experience,” he added. “The training consisted of simple, straightforward lectures, but there were also group, team-building exercises. Most lectures and exercises addressed customer service and conflict management as well as a myriad of other subjects.”

Jackson said much of what he learned will be useful in his role in risk management and customer service – helping patients resolve any issue or concerns they may have with their care, billing or other needs.

“I’ve been a registered nurse for more than 28 years, working in mostly high-acuity areas such as the Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department and Cardiac Catheterization Lab, but I’ve also worked as a director in Cardiovascular Services and Emergency Department, as well as Research and Data Collections,” he said.

Since he arrived at Wamego Health Center in 2015, he has helped the cardiac rehabilitation department grow while also serving as risk manager. Jackson recently started a home sleep study program that has also been successful.

Walk-in services vs. Emergency care

When you or a family member is feeling unwell, how do you know where to go for treatment?

Stacia Brown, RN, Wamego Family Clinic manager, offers a few tips to help you decide whether to visit the Wamego Family Clinic’s walk-in services or if you need to go to the Emergency Room.

When to Use Walk-in Services

For non-life threatening circumstances including but not limited to:

  • Colds
  • Flu symptoms
  • Cough or upper respiratory symptoms
  • Ear or sinus pain
  • Minor burns and bruises
  • Scrapes and minor lacerations
  • Sprains
  • Possible fractures
  • Asthma
  • Pediatric illness over age of 3 months
  • Abdominal pain – mild to moderate without fever or abnormal vitals
  • Rash or hives
  • Stings and bites
  • Allergies
  • Fevers – ages 3 months to 70 years old
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Eye irritation or minor
  • Urinary symptoms
  • Minor work related injuries
  • School physicals

Will it be a long wait?

It depends, and we’ll do our best to help you quickly. Typical waits are 15 minutes to 1 hour.  You can check the wait times before you go or when you arrive.

Who will I see at the Walk-in Clinic?

You’ll see one of our healthcare providers: a medical doctor, a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant.  They work together and each one is committed to making lives better through health and healing and doing what is right for each patient.

Is it going to be expensive?

Check with your health insurance plan for details and co-pay amounts. Our walk-in services are billed as an office visit, not billed as ER care.  You are expected to pay your co-pay or $50 at the time of your appointment and will be sent a statement for the balance due, following insurance response.

I don’t have a primary care provider. Does it matter?

You can utilize our Walk-in Services for circumstances listed above whether you have a PCP or not. If you don’t have a PCP, we think it is important to find one.  For the best health, establish a relationship with a Primary Care Provider for annual visits, follow-up care, and to manage your health conditions.

When to Schedule an appointment with Primary Care Provider or covering provider

You can always request to schedule an appointment with your Primary Care Provider. There may be a wait time before your PCP has an available opening so plan ahead and request an appointment several days in advance.

  • Medication management and refills
  • Treatment/Plan of care for known diagnoses and conditions
  • Mental health
  • Referrals needed
  • Yearly or routine physical exams
  • KDOT Physicals
  • Pre-operative physical exam

When to Use Emergency Care or call 911 from home

  • Severe trauma or injury
  • Chest pain (suspected heart attack or stroke)
  • Amputation of limbs or deep wounds with severe bleeding
  • Sudden confusion, weakness, dizziness, numbness, severe headache
  • Difficulty speaking or breathing
  • Head injury
  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • New onset of Seizures
  • Major burns involving the face, dorsal surface of hands, fingers, large areas of the body
  • Vomiting blood
  • Smoke or chemical inhalation
  • Poisoning, overdoses
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Pregnancy complications over 20 weeks including labor, bleeding, fluid leakage, decreased fetal movement
  • Abdominal pain – Severe or if it includes fever or abnormal vital signs
  • Pediatric illnesses – when infant is less than 3 months of age
  • Post-operative complications
  • Foreign object in eye

Community leaders break ground at Wamego Health Center

After years of planning and fundraising, Wamego residents finally witnessed the first step toward Wamego Health Center’s first upgrade in more than a decade.

The $10.8 million construction project, funded by Ascension Health and local donors through the Wamego Community Health Foundation, will improve the appearance, flow and functionality of the facility’s outpatient services and provide additional safety measures for staff and patients.

“I want to acknowledge our amazing staff,” said Steve Land, Wamego Health Center administrator. “These dedicated employees are the heart of WHC and the proud tradition our community has come to expect. Without their demand for excellence and growth, this expansion would not have been possible or necessary.”

“The dirt-turners we have today represent so many businesses and individuals in our community who have contributed to our success,” Land said. “We could probably line up 100 shovels with the amount of work it’s taken to get to this spot.”

Dwight Faulkner, president of the Wamego Hospital Association and vice president of Bank of the Flint Hills, thanked the donors and volunteers who contributed to the project.

“This is a great day for our community,” Faulkner said. “We’re blessed to have such a wonderful community in Wamego, we’re blessed to have such a wonderful staff at Wamego Health Center and we’re blessed to have such a great partnership with the city of Wamego, Via Christi and Ascension Health.”


Local donors included:

  • Ascension and Via Christi Health
  • The White Family & Bank of the Flint Hills
  • An anonymous donor in honor of Pinky Barker
  • International Organization of Odd Fellows No. 80
  • Kaw Valley State Banks
  • WTC
  • Bennington State Bank
  • Rob & Jan Eichman & Midwest Concrete Materials
  • Don & Shawn Coleman & Tri County Insurance
  • Central Mechanical Construction
  • CoBank