Our History

The Beginning

Dr. John Koentz, who obtained his medical training in Amsterdam, Netherlands, homesteaded near Onaga in 1859 and established his medical practice. From these "horse and buggy" beginnings, the residents of Onaga and the surrounding communities of Havensville, Soldier, Circleville, Holton, Corning, Centralia, Emmett and Westmoreland have had continuous, professional medical care. In 1943 the Charles Day 3-story victorian residence was converted into a hospital that offered inpatient care for adults and pediatrics, emergency services, obstetrical and surgical services. 

In 1955, the communities of Emmett, Havensville, Onaga and Wheaton came together to create Community Hospital District 1 and built a new hospital for this area in northeast Kansas. The hospital opened its doors in 1957 under the leadership of C. C. Stauffer and Roy Tessendorf. It provided the same services as the initial hospital with Dr. Fleckenstein and Dr. Eugene Walsh as the medical staff. Dr. Tom Walsh joined them in July 1975.

The Growth Years

The decades of the '80s and '90s saw tremendous growth, both in program and service development as well as geographical expansion.  As the organization expanded into other communities, Community Hospital District 1 changed its name to the more inclusive Community HealthCare System (CHCS).

CHCS has always been centered on serving rural citizens. This focus was the guiding principle behind its expansion: recognizing the communities of its existing patient base and establishing family practice medical clinics in those communities to better serve them. By the beginning of 2000, CHCS was directly serving the communities of Centralia, Frankfort, Holton, Onaga and St. Marys. It developed a continuum of care services meeting the needs of patients of all ages with inpatient and outpatient services, skilled services, wellness services and programming, home-based care, senior services, expanded lab, imaging, and rehabilitation services


CHCS has added two additional locations in the past two years, taking health and wellness services to the communities of Corning and Westmoreland. 

The health system covers 10,000 square miles, with family practice as the center point of all our care, as well as an offering of hospital outpatient services. It employs 10 family practice physicians, 1 psychiatrist and 10 advanced practitioners. It is an award-winning health care system and an economic contributor for a number of communities in northeastern Kansas. 

CHCS has always had its roots in caring for rural communities. It finds its strength in the relationships of our patients, communities, physicians and advanced practitioners in carrying out its mission: To enrich the health and lives of the people we serve.