hospitals

Go here to subscribe to the My Fellow Kansans podcast. This season, we look at the prospects of rural places.

ANTHONY, Kansas — Few things signal a rural community’s decline more powerfully than the closure of its hospital.

Like shuttered schools and empty Main Streets, an abandoned hospital serves as a tangible reminder of the erosive power of decades of population loss and unrelenting economic trends.

A Kansas City-based company that specializes in turning around financially distressed hospitals is proposing to purchase Hillsboro Community Hospital in rural Kansas for $6.9 million.

The company, Rural Hospital Group, was formed in 2017 and has acquired three other rural hospitals: one in Wellington, Kansas; another  in Boonville, Missouri; and a third in Marion, Kentucky. It has since sold the hospital in Boonville.

Sitting at the edge of the gently undulating landscape of the Flint Hills in east-central Kansas, the town of Hillsboro boasts a small hospital that has survived a remarkable roller coaster ride even as other rural hospitals stagger and fail.  

Nine months ago, everything seemed to be coming apart at the 15-bed facility, Hillsboro Community Hospital, which traces its roots back more than a century.

FORT SCOTT, Kansas — On a hot June day, as the Good Ol’ Days Festival was in full swing, 7-year-old Kaidence Anderson sat in the shade with her family waiting for a medevac helicopter to land.

A crowd had gathered to see the display pre-arranged by staff at the town’s historic fort.

“It’s going to show us how it’s going to help other people because we don’t have the hospital anymore,” the redheaded girl explained.

Over the last five years, almost 15,000 workers disappeared from the Kansas workforce.

During the same timeframe, the state is growing economically, with a recent monthly report showing 14,000 jobs created in the last year and unemployment at 3.3%. That’s below the national rate. 

Despite the good news, Kansas officials see a long-term challenge: having enough employees to fill the state’s jobs, especially in high-demand careers like nursing and accounting.

Stephanneth Adams plans to leave Kansas.

The nurse practitioner landed in the state’s rural southwest — where she saw patients in Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal — through a federal program aimed at stubborn health care shortages in urban and rural America.

But why stay? Adams has her eyes on Nevada, a state that lets its most educated nurses roll up their sleeves and work without permanently needing, as they do in Kansas, permission from a physician.

AdventHealth will take over operation of Ransom Memorial Health, a 44-bed acute-care hospital in Ottawa, Kansas, the Florida-based health system announced on Wednesday.

Ransom Memorial will be renamed AdventHealth Ottawa. It joins other members of the AdventHealth network, including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Merriam, Kansas, formerly known as Shawnee Mission Medical Center.

Three Kansas hospitals are among six hospitals once run by a North Kansas City-based company that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A Marion County, Kansas, judge on Friday appointed a receiver to run Hillsboro Community Hospital after its lender moved to foreclose on the 15-bed facility earlier this month.

The judge found that “immediate and irreparable harm is likely to result if a receiver is not appointed to operate and manage the Hospital in order to ensure that it remains open and retains as much of its value as possible.”

An eleventh-hour payment of $16,644 for delinquent utility bills averted a threatened cutoff of electricity at tiny Hillsboro Community Hospital in central Kansas.

The city, 50 miles north of Wichita and home to about 3,000 people, said in a brief news release that it gave notice to the hospital on Jan. 8 that it would shut off utilities effective at noon Friday. It received the payment in the morning.

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