GALENA, Kan. — Mercy, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country, is expanding its orthopedic footprint into Southeast Kansas with its recent acquisition of three Galena-based health care centers.

Orthopaedic Specialists of the Four States, Premier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center are officially operating under the Mercy umbrella after the parties signed an acquisition agreement this month. The new ownership, which officially took effect Sunday, is the result of a two-year discussion, officials said. Terms were not disclosed.

Before the acquisition, Mercy only had one integrated orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Eisenhauer, and a contracted group of orthopedic surgeons who managed emergencies for the emergency department and trauma center, according to Dr. Tracy Godfrey, president of Mercy Clinic in Joplin.

Godfrey said Mercy now has an additional 12 physicians, eight physician assistants and seven nurse practitioners on board, not including the remaining staff. All current Ortho Four States, Premier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center patients should be able to continue their care uninterrupted.

“With all of the orthopedic options here in the community (of Joplin), it’s been very difficult for Mercy to develop their own integrated orthopedic service line, and with Ortho Four States’ great history of service and clinical outcomes, it was a very easy thing to consider partnering and acquiring them,” Godfrey said.

The three Kansas centers are now part of the Mercy provider network, which is beneficial for all parties involved because it increases access to care and services, she said. Officials first announced the exploration of the acquisition in August.

“They have an amazing operation out there, and they know their business well,” Godfrey said. “We don’t want to do anything to change that. Certainly, we’d like to see the service line grow. They have a well-oiled machine that they run out there, and I think there are great opportunities for us to learn from that.”

No staff positions were downsized or terminated as a result of the agreement, officials with Mercy said. Premier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center are home to leading specialists in orthopedics, gastroenterology, gynecology, otolaryngology, dentistry, pain management, podiatry and more.

“For more than a decade, Ortho Four States has been providing compassionate, high-quality orthopedic and pain management care to our patients in Joplin and the Four State Region," Ortho Four States CEO Joe Caputo said in a statement. "We are honored to be the trusted providers in restoring patients' quality of life through state-of-the-art surgical and nonsurgical procedures. Today (Monday), we are proud to announce the strengthening of our ability to treat patients as we become part of the Mercy ministry, an organization with a 100-year legacy of healing.”

Founding Ortho Four States physicians Christopher Banwart, Jonathan Grantham, Brian Ipsen, John Ogden, Terry Schwab, Robert Stringer and Paul Toma had privileges at the former St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which was destroyed in the 2011 tornado.

“We believe that the community will benefit greatly from bringing these organizations together as part of Mercy,” Jeremy Drinkwitz, president of Mercy Hospital Joplin, said in a statement. “Mercy is thrilled to add these well-known, high-quality health care providers to our ministry.”

Orthopaedic Specialists of the Four States, Premier Surgical Institute and Stateline Surgery Center will continue to operate under their current names and branding while Mercy transfers the agencies to its electronic health record software.

It’s estimated the transition process will take until August to complete. A grand opening celebration and official change of name and brand to Mercy will follow shortly after the software transition.

Acquired centers

Premier Surgical Institute provides a range of surgical and wellness care including dental surgery, gastrointestinal surgery, general surgery, as well as neck-to-toe orthopedic and sports medicine surgery. Other services offered are foot and ankle reconstructive surgery, general urology and urological surgery. 

Orthopaedic Specialist of the Four States is the largest and most comprehensive neck-to-toe orthopedic, spine, sports medicine, joint replacement and revision, physical therapy, aquatic rehabilitation, and pain management care group and facility serving the Four-State Area.

Stateline Surgery Center, a service of Premier Surgical Institute, is a multispecialty surgery center. A 12,800-square-foot center, Stateline Surgery Center features three surgical suites equipped with the latest technology.