Compass Health Network

Core values that create impact

When reflecting on the recent Columbia, Missouri, Compass Health Network renovation, River City Construction, LLC Construction Director Kelly Hequembourg feels a sense of accomplishment.

“Construction has always been a challenging industry, and it has only become tougher post-pandemic with material shortages, labor shortages and rising costs,” he said. “We had to lean on our core values of relationships, excellence, innovation and integrity. To be on a team that led one of the most rewarding projects I have been a part of is a tribute to everyone involved from beginning to end, especially our client, Compass Health Network.”


Prior to the new facility, Compass Health Network was operating with multiple buildings in mid-Missouri, offering a range of services to more than 42 Missouri counties. The goal of the renovation was to upgrade the building and consolidate all services into one state-of-the-art facility.

Regional Vice President for Compass Health Network, Karen Cade, was a key decision maker in the renovation of their existing facility. During the bid process, she and her staff all agreed that River City Construction’s experience with medical and dental clinics met their needs.

“[River City Construction’s] introduction and presentation during the bid process was excellent and gave us a level of confidence that we rarely experience. Their cost and timelines were right in line with what we had hoped,” Cade said. “In a time when the industry was experiencing challenges, labor shortages and material shortages, River City gave us confidence that they could deliver, and they did not disappoint.”

As far as Hequembourg, along with Joe Seymour, vice president; Tanner Laughlin, project manager; Jesse Steck, superintendent; and the rest of the River City Construction team are concerned, everyone involved with this project was a true partner.

From the owner, Compass Health Network, to design team members SOA Architecture, Crockett Engineering and Introba, to each of their subcontractors, all parties were committed to the success of the project and worked together as one team to bring this existing building back to life.


The confidence River City Construction provided Compass Health Network did not guarantee a road without challenges behind the scenes. Preconstruction began in January 2022 and ran through June 2022, and construction started in June 2022 and finished in May 2023.

“Health care construction is a challenge in itself. When you incorporate multiple services into one building it becomes even more difficult. One advantage our team had was that our partners had experience doing this in a past medical office building that incorporated seven different services into the same building,” Hequembourg said.

With the team’s combined knowledge, they were able to make sure design and construction for each area was exactly what that area or service needed and in no way sacrificed for one of the other services.

However, in the midst of the project, there was an underlying concern of how the vision would come together.

Shawn Schmidli of Compass Health Network and Julie Whitsitt of SOA Architecture were vital in making the vision a successful reality. As River City Construction installed finishes, there were team members with feelings of doubt about some of the finish selections. The team trusted the process and when all the finishes were installed, the final product was a top-of-the-line medical facility the team and their partners could be proud of.


Accomplishing the high-end finished product took some unexpected turns along the way. The River City Construction team received a call from the University of Missouri just after being awarded Compass Health Network. They were asked if they knew of anyone looking to buy approximately 40,000 square feet of insulated metal panels.

Hequembourg first dismissed the thought, finding it unlikely they would be able to incorporate those panels into a different design.

Around that time, SOA Architecture had published their first renderings of the new facility and the color scheme matched the available metal panels.

“We quickly started to discuss the option further with Compass Health, SOA Architecture and Missouri Builders, who was storing the panels,” Hequembourg said. “Within a week of that initial phone call, the team decided we could make this work and made an offer to buy the metal panels from the University of Missouri.”

They were able to help both Compass Health Network and the University of Missouri by thinking outside the box and designing around the repurposed panels that were available. The ability for River City Construction to adapt and incorporate the unexpected material into the design also helped the procurement schedule and budget.

While the outside of the building came together, River City Construction had to learn to work with the existing structure internally, not only for construction and design purposes but with the patient experience in mind.

“With a lot of renovations, you can really clean up the interior, but it is rare that you can totally transform the exterior look of the building, too. This team took a very dated and dreary looking building and transformed it into a modern, state-of-the-art health care facility,” Hequembourg said.


Always doing what’s right is one of the pillars of River City Construction’s core values. That sometimes includes putting the client’s or other partners’ needs ahead of their own for the greater good of the project. Whether that meant changing an area mid-stream from pharmacy to optometry, River City worked as a team to make sure the project came first to provide for the needs of Compass Health.

Beyond what River City Construction was able to accomplish over the course of this project, the community impact the new Compass Health Network facility provides outshines any construction or design feature.

“By integrating pediatric health services, including mental health, primary care, dental and vision services into one location, our clinical team can work together more effectively to care for the whole child,” Cade said.

This type of collaborative-approach facility is proven to improve health outcomes, increase access to services, lower overall health care costs, and be more convenient for parents and caregivers.

With the help of River City Construction and its partners, the mid-Missouri Compass Health Network location will provide kids the high-quality care they need without adding more stress to parents’ plates. By keeping the children they serve healthy and well, they are contributing to healthier, happier families and communities.