Category Archives: Ascencion Via Christi

Bourbon County Takes Ownership of Former Mercy Hospital Building

The Bourbon County Government has taken possession of the former Mercy Hospital.

Officials Introduce Innovative Healthcare Model

Mercy donates building and 1 million dollars toward a sustainable approach to rural healthcare.

Bourbon County and City of Fort Scott officials are committed to improving the quality of life for each member of the community, increasing access to affordable quality healthcare, and remaining vigilant stewards of taxpayer dollars. For years Fort Scott, KS was renowned for its healthcare. Mercy Hospital was an integral part of our health system from primary care to community benefit to leadership involvement.


What remains today are the caring professionals, ambitious leaders, beautiful hospital campus, and the ingrained culture of ensuring community health needs are addressed appropriately.


Bourbon County Commission will be partnering with our community healthcare partners, The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas and Ascension Via Christi, and higher education partner, Fort Scott Community College, in transforming our approach to rural healthcare. Bourbon County will be taking ownership of the previous Mercy Hospital Building.


With Ascension Via Christi and CHC/SEK occupying a portion of the facility, the county is working with other health service agencies to supplement the community’s health care needs by housing them in the remainder of the move-in ready space.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, 403 Woodland Hills Blvd., operates the clinic at the former Mercy Hospital building.

For the common good of the community, the building will be repurposed into a collaborative effort that will be here for decades to come.

Ascension Via Christi President, Randy Cason, states, “This is exciting news for Fort Scott and the surrounding communities. Ascension Via Christi is eager to continue working with our community partners here to help to find solutions for the healthcare needs of this more rural area.”


Ascension Via Christi operates the emergency department at the former Mercy Hospital building.

Mercy Health Southwest Missouri/Kansas Communities has submitted a draft donation agreement to donate the building and one million dollars to Bourbon County for use of building maintenance and operations. This donation allows healthcare entities to lease space in the healthcare mall at market-rate. A standardized market-rate lease has led to discussions with healthcare organizations to expand services not otherwise offered.


Administration from Bourbon County and The City of Fort Scott will work together, develop a regulatory board and long-term lease agreements moving forward.


“This project is much more than just saving a building,” Jody Hoener, Economic Development Director, “Preserving this asset allows our community to no longer be victims of circumstance, but to assume responsibility for our community’s healthcare destiny. It creates a sustainable healthcare model under one roof.” There is little doubt in the concept’s success with the right amount of support and will be used as a model shaping rural healthcare policy across the nation.

Contact information:

Jody Hoener, Bourbon County Economic Development Director

CHC/SEK: Not Possible to Pursue Mercy Building Repurpose

The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) Board of Directors took no action today toward establishing a “medical mall” within the former Fort Scott Mercy Hospital. Prior to finalizing plans for the construction of a new primary care clinic, CHC/SEK had spent the past month assessing the feasibility of remaining in the existing building.


“It was our goal,” said CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai, “to see if we could recruit enough occupants to cover the cost of repurposing the former hospital built in 2002 at the cost of $30 million.”


“After analyzing costs over the last year and projecting expenses if the building’s space was fully utilized, we estimated that we would need about $800,000 to $1 million annually to cover utilities and maintenance plus the staff to keep the building maintained and fully operational,” said Postai, adding the bulk of that expense would have to be covered by CHC/SEK and Ascension/Via Christi who together would occupy a large percentage of the overall building.


CHC/SEK staff met with multiple people and organizations to discuss their interest including officials from Fort Scott Community College who identified opportunities for space for their nursing department, as well as additional dormitory space. We were especially appreciative of the Bourbon County Commission who had pledged “in-kind” support to take care of mowing, snow removal, etc., as well as the Mercy Health System who had tentatively committed funds for needed and future repairs.


“Altogether, we had tentative commitments from about a half dozen interested in being a part of the project which covered about 100,000 sq. ft. of the 125,000 sq. ft. of available space,” said Postai, who explained the entire building is 177,000 sq. ft. but about 50,000 sq. ft. is dedicated to mechanical space that supports the overall building operations.


“That was assuming Ascension/Via Christi remained in the existing ER and Diagnostic Imaging area, and we continued to occupy the clinic space plus the pharmacy,” she said.


“Unfortunately, we were notified Wednesday that after analyzing their options, Ascension/Via Christi had determined to remain in the existing building on a permanent basis was cost-prohibitive, and it was more fiscally prudent to build a new ER,” said Postai.


“We were told the existing ER space would need about $3 million in renovations and that, plus a lease payment adequate to cover the cost of their share of the facility, would make it far more expensive than a new facility,” said Postai. The CHC/SEK Board was prepared to make a go/no go decision at their Board meeting Thursday but after learning that Ascension/Via Christi was moving forward on their own construction, the board determined it was not possible to pursue this project without them.


“We all have to make hard decisions about what is best for our organizations and, unfortunately, we all have limited funds and have to maximize our capital investments,” said Postai adding that both organizations remain committed to providing services in Ft. Scott.


Both CHC/SEK and Ascension/Via Christi had already started designing new facilities on the existing campus and will proceed on, said Postai explaining CHC/SEK was planning a 25,000 sq. ft. to 30,000 sq. ft. facility facing Horton Street at an estimated cost of about $5 million.

Via Christi Opens Clinic in Downtown Fort Scott Jan. 13

Dr. Katrina Burke, courtesy of Ascension Via Christi.

Dr. Katrina Burke’s first day at the new AscensionVia Christi Medical Clinic in downtown Fort Scott is Monday, Jan. 13.

She will be accepting new obstetrics and pediatric patients.

Burke will also see previous patients but is accepting no new adult patients, according to her receptionist Kristal Farmer.

Dr. Burke said that the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK), her previous employer, did not send out letters, telling of the change to her patients when she left on Dec. 31. She had given CHC a 90 days notice of her intent to leave CHC/SEK.

Hours for the clinic, located at 109 S. Main (north of the Liberty Theater) are 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday.

Thursday afternoon she is out of the office, but is in the office in the morning, according to her receptionist.

To contact the office call 620-223-7008.

109 S.Main is the new location of Ascension Via Christi’s Medical Clinic in downtown Fort Scott. A new sign will be up soon.
Ascension Via Christi employee Niki Bishir mans the desk of the new medical clinic on Jan. 9. She was temporary, while the employees were in an orientation meeting, she said.
Dr. Katrina Burke has already added her personal touches to the new clinic: a hallway lined with a photo of her family and framed degrees she has earned during her career as a medical doctor.

New clinic employees are Farmer, Registered Nurse Rachel Judy, and Medical Assistant Chelsea Harrison.

For more information about the clinic, visit

Via Christi Supports Expanding Medicaid In Kansas

Response to today’s announcement of a bipartisan agreement on Medicaid expansion
” Ascension Via Christi extends our appreciation to Gov. Laura Kelly and Sen. Jim Denning for
reaching an agreement on expanding Medicaid in Kansas. Ascension Via Christi, along with the
Kansas Hospital Association and many other healthcare organizations, have been advocating for
Medicaid expansion for the past eight years as a way to make sure that all of our citizens have
access to care.
Expanding Medicaid will bring hundreds of millions in federal dollars to our state, giving Kansans
residents increased access to health care coverage while supporting healthcare providers and our
entire Kansas economy.
Across Ascension’s markets we know that expanded Medicaid has enhanced access to coverage
and care, resulted in more appropriate utilization of services, and has created financial security
among the poor and vulnerable.
Our ministry’s support of Medicaid expansion is rooted in our mission to serve all persons, with
special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable, and to protect and promote the inherent
dignity of all human life from conception until natural death .”
-Submitted by Don King, chief executive officer, Ascension Via Christi

Ascension Via Christi Welcomes Dr. Katrina Burke

PITTSBURG – Ascension Via Christi is pleased to welcome Katrina Burke, MD, to its medical staff.

Dr. Burke, family medicine with obstetrics, will begin seeing patients in mid-January at the new Ascension Medical Group clinic at 109 S. Main Street in Fort Scott.

Burke most recently served with Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas in Fort Scott.

She is a 2010 graduate of the University of Kansas Medical School and a 2006 graduate of the University of Kansas.

To make an appointment, please call 620-223-7008. For more information about the clinic, please visit

About us
In Kansas, Ascension Via Christi ( operates seven hospitals and 75 other sites of care and employs
6,000 associates. Across the state, Via Christi provided $68.8 million in community benefit and care of persons living in
poverty in fiscal year 2018. Serving Kansas for more than 135 years, Ascension ( is a faith-based
healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As one of the
leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S., Ascension ( is committed to delivering
compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable.
In FY2018, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit
programs. Ascension includes approximately 156,000 associates and 34,000 aligned providers. The national health
system operates more than 2,600 sites of care – including 151 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 21
states and the District of Columbia, while providing a variety of services including physician practice management,
venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, facilities management, clinical care
management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing

CHC Looks At Feasibility to Preserve Mercy Hospital Building

Krista Postai

“After almost a full year of providing services in Ft. Scott, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas wanted to take one last look at preserving the hospital building that was built to last through several generations. As you can imagine, transitioning almost 75 people and five clinics in a few short months was a very daunting task a year ago and, at the time, we were concerned about making it as seamless as possible. We were aware that our lease was only two years and that a long-term solution needed to be found and the easiest approach was to build from ground up. We have indeed started that process.


However, one can’t spend any time in Ft. Scott without realizing the impact the Sisters of Mercy have had on the community over the last century and how much their hospital meant to everyone – especially those who donated toward building it. With a year of history in the building, we thought it wise before we invested $5 million in building a new clinic, to evaluate what the actual costs of keeping the hospital building open have been. Without many of the services a hospital provides, the cost appears to have been far less than originally projected. In the meantime, there has been renewed interest in using portions of the space for health-related purposes as evidenced by the meeting held in Ft. Scott a few weeks ago.


As a result, CHC/SEK is doing a feasibility study to determine exactly what it will take to preserve the facility from destruction. We have approached the Mercy System about the possibility of acquiring the building and they have responded positively. At this point, everything is very preliminary and no formal ask has been made.


This is something we can’t do alone. We have also approached other possible major tenants in the building including Ascension/Via Christi and may have enough to sustain and maintain the facility. Again, everything is in the discussion stages with no firm commitments or contracts. We will also be talking with the city and county over the next few weeks. The last thing we want to do is raise false hopes so please know this is just an evaluation of what may be possible.


I will be presenting a recommendation to my Board at their January 16th meeting. Time is of the essence so a decision whether to formally approach the Mercy System for the donation must be made prior to February 1. Two building projects have already been initiated for a new clinic and an new ER and decisions have to be made quickly if we are going to reverse course.  That leaves little time to work out all the details and talk with everyone so my apologies to anyone who we may miss over the next few weeks.


We do want people to be aware of our efforts and will be happy to talk to anyone with an interest that we haven’t already spoken with.  The concept of a ‘medical mall’ is a promising one but, at this point, is only an idea. The best way to reach me is via email at”

Submitted by:

Krista Postai

President & CEO

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas

3011 N. Michigan

Pittsburg, KS 66762






CHCSEK Health Care Update From Krista Postai

Krista Postai

Since taking over operations of the medical clinic from Mercy Hospital earlier this year, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has been working to add more doctors’ services.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, 403 Woodland Hills Blvd.

Added Doctors

The following doctors have recently been added or added more days available in the Fort Scott clinic.

Dr. Alicia Pino, D. O. is a board-certified pediatrician and holds medical privileges from Ascension Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg.


Dr. Holly Gault, M.D. is a board-certified family physician with obstetrics and has medical privileges at Ascension Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg.


“They aren’t really new,” Krista Postai, CEO and president of CHCSEK said of the two doctors. “Dr. Gault, a family physician, has been with us for more than three years in Pittsburg and lives near Arcadia so is actually closer to Ft. Scott. She has been seeing patients there one day a week and is increasing to two.”


“Dr. Pino joined us this summer; she is a board-certified pediatrician and is currently seeing patients one day a week in Fort Scott. She also sees newborns at Via Christi Ascension and patients in Pittsburg three days a week.”


“We thought it would be more convenient for those Bourbon County women delivering in Pittsburg to have both these doctors more available for follow up visits,” she said.


Dr.  Grant Hartman, a Fort Scott Chiropractor officially joins CHCSEK this month and, beginning in January, will provide chiropractic services at their clinics in both Pittsburg and Fort Scott, Postai said.


Dr. Bashar Marji is the latest addition of specialists added, Postai said. Marji is a cardiology specialist who will come to Fort Scott one Friday each month.


The following are the specialists currently in Fort Scott, with their frequency:

  • Cardiology – Dr. Markham (HCA) – the first, third and fourth Thursday of each month;
  • Urology – Dr. Tawil – every Thursday;
  • Orthopedics – Greg King, APRN (Freeman) – every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday;
  • Surgery – Dr. Hall (Allen County Regional Hospital) – Thursday afternoons, Friday all-day of every week;
  • Cardiology – Renae Bateman, APRN (Mercy) – every Monday;
  • Cardiovascular Surgery – the combination of Dr. Meyer/Dr. Brown/Pam Darnell, APRN/Amanda Lumpkins, APRN/Paige Palmer, APRN (all Mercy) – First and Third Friday of every month;
  • Cardiology – Dr. Marji – one Friday each month


New Clinic Building In Process

CHC/SEK will be building a facility on Horton, just west of the former Mercy Hospital building.


The move to build a new clinic on the Horton Street side of the former Mercy Hospital in on-going, Postai said.


Currently, CHCSEK is finalizing the donation of land from Mercy Hospital, she said. Additionally, they are working on the design of the new building.


“We are looking at eight acres including the helipad,” Postai said.  “We expect to have that done very shortly and are looking at a groundbreaking in the spring.”



NPR Continues Story on Mercy Hosptal Closing

The following is part of a series from National Public Radio and Sarah Jane Tribble for Kaiser Health News on the closing of Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott, December 2018, taken from Facebook.

Nationwide, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. The loss of these hospitals has forced a change in the way emergency care is provided, including a greater reliance on air ambulances.

Mercy Foundation Distributes Funds

The Mercy Health Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organizaiton, has been working to distribute the assets of the foundation to the community, since the closure of Mercy Hospital-Fort Scott in December 2018.
The following responses are from an interview with the foundation board president, Jared Leek, regarding those distributions.
Following large contributions to secure Community Health Center-Southeast Kansas($300,000) and Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department ($200,000), the purchase of two transport ambulances, the remodel of the (Bourbon) County’s Ambulance Barn and donations to specific program areas, the remaining Mercy Health Foundation assets will be transferred to the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas,” Leek said.
Click below for the features on the donations:
A motion was made at the May 24, 2019 foundation board meeting to transfer the remaining balance of unrestricted funds to the community foundation as un-endowed funds.
Funds will be used to support healthcare needs in the community, Leek noted.
“The account with the Community Foundation has been set up and funds should be transferred from the Mercy Health Foundation to the Community Foundation in the near future,” Leek said.
Will the Mercy Foundation be dissolved?
 “The Fort Scott Mercy Health Foundation will not be fully dissolving at this time, but the board has been reduced down to three members.  These three members will be responsible for fulfilling the duties assigned to them until the board can fully dissolve.  The Foundation is the beneficiary of a few annuities and charitable trusts established years ago, and the smaller board has been directed to transfer the funds to the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation once these items mature.”
The current officers of the Mercy Foundation Board are  Leek, president; Bryan Holt, treasurer; and Darcy Smith, secretary.
These three will form the managing board under the umbrella of the Community Foundation Board to manage these funds.
Other members of the foundation board at the hospital’s closing were Jolynne Mitchell, Colleen Quick, Alysia Johnson, Becky Tourtillott, Mark McCoy, Chris Petty, and Bill Michaud. Leek, Holt and Smith remain members.
Corporate Members from Mercy with no voting rights were Jim Barber and Reta Baker.
Recently, the  Gordon Parks Museum received the Parks art collection which was donated to Mercy by Parks in 2002.
The Fort Scott Mercy Health Foundation was honored to donate our collection of Gordon Parks’ photographs and poems gifted to the foundation.  We hope that the members of the community and tourists will continue to enjoy these works of art for many years to come at the Gordon Parks Museum Foundation.”
The Gordon Parks Museum is located on the campus of Fort Scott Community College, 2108 S. Horton.

Click below for the donation to the local museum:

Exhibit Donated to Gordon Parks Museum by Mercy Foundation

“The transfer of the artwork to the Gordon Parks Museum Foundation stipulates the collection must remain in Bourbon County and be made available to loan out to organizations in Bourbon County based on approval of the Executive Director.”
Bourbon County also received a donation from the Mercy Health Foundation?
 “Bourbon County Commission and Mercy Hospital reached an agreement to transfer/donate/sell the ambulance barn located east of the hospital.  The foundation was not included in this discussion, because the property was not owned by the foundation.  The foundation did agree to assist the Bourbon County Commission with the remodel of the ambulance barn; the board  approved a $26,000 donation to update the ambulance barn.”
Bourbon County Ambulance Service has a station at 405 Woodland Hills, northeast of the Community Health Center building that was donated by Mercy. Also donated were two emergency transport vehicles.

Click below for more information:

New EMS Vehicles Dedicated Feb. 12 At Timken

The newly remodeled emergency medical services facility that was donated to Bourbon County EMS by Mercy Hospital, located northeast of Community Health Center at 405 Woodland Hills.
 ” The $7,527 in the restricted ambulance fund (remaining after the purchase of two new transport ambulances; gifted to Bourbon County) will be moved to the general fund to assist with this funding.” Taken from Mercy Health Foundation Minutes, February 25, 2019.
Leek provided the following as the purpose of the Mercy Health Foundation taken from the Mercy Foundation articles:

“To receive gifts and grants of unrestricted funds, and to use the unrestricted funds in a manner that is recommended by the Member (Mercy Hospital); provided that such use and distributions are for the Corporation’s (board of the Mercy foundation) proper purposes and activities that qualify as exempt under Code Section 501(c)(3) and are proper under the provisions of this Article VI;

“To review and approve of the receipt and acceptance of gifts and grants of restricted funds, and if the restricted funds are approved for receipt and acceptance by the Corporation, to use the restricted funds for their intended purposes; provided that such use and distributions are for the Corporation’s proper purposes and activities that qualify as exempt under Code Section 501(c)(3) and are proper under the provisions of this Article VI;

“To fund health-related capital expenditures using the unrestricted funds as recommended by the Member;

“To coordinate the development of new health programs and services as recommended by the Member, which include funding the ongoing operation of such programs;

“To coordinate health-related educational programs as recommended by the Member;

“To coordinate and conduct health-related research as recommended by the Member.”

NPR: Cancer Patient Care Is Gone In Fort Scott

Click below for the latest edition of National Public Radio’s features on rural health.

This story focuses on two local people who used the cancer center at Mercy Hospital: Karen Endicott-Coyan, Fort Scott and Art Terry, Prescott.


Cason: Via Christi Beginning to Explore Facility Options

Randy Cason, Ascension Via Christi Hospital President speaks at the grand opening of the Fort Scott Emergency Department on Feb. 28.

Ascension Via Christ came to Fort Scott to fill in the void of emergency care, following the closure of Mercy Hospital.

The following is an update on the facility options for the Fort Scott Emergency Department, from Randy Cason, president of Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg. Ascension Via Christ opened the local emergency department on Feb. 28, 2019.
“Ascension Via Christi stepped forward to meet the Fort Scott community’s immediate need for close-to-home emergency, laboratory and diagnostic imaging and we continue to explore and discuss options beyond our two-year lease agreement,” Cason said in a press release. “Our goal is to establish a sustainable model of care that best meets the needs of all the patients and families we serve in Ft. Scott and Southeast Kansas. However, we are still in the beginning stages of the exploration process of potential facility options.”
The door to the Emergency Department in Fort Scott.
The facility is operating out of the former Mercy Hospital building currently, which is located at 405 Woodland Hills on Fort Scott’s south side, just off Hwy. 69. The emergency department faces the south side of the building.
Ascension Via Christi took over operations of the emergency department in February 2019, following the closing of Mercy the end of December 2018.
From left: Tawny Sandifer, Ascension Via Christi Chief Nursing Officer; Naomi Powers, Director of the Emergency Department in Fort Scott and Pittsburg; Jessica Cobb, RN Nursing Manager, Fort Scott and Pittsburg; Kayla Stewart, RN Coordinator Clinical Program. The photo was taken during the opening of the emergency department in February 2019.
People who are interested in working with Ascension Via Christ can visit