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.
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.”
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.
“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.
Jody Hoener, Bourbon County Economic Development Director
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.
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.
New clinic employees are Farmer, Registered Nurse Rachel Judy, and Medical Assistant Chelsea Harrison.
For more information about the clinic, visit
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
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
In Kansas, Ascension Via Christi (www.viachristi.org) 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 (www.ascension.org) 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 (www.ascension.org) 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
“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 email@example.com.”
President & CEO
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas
3011 N. Michigan
Pittsburg, KS 66762
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.
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:
New Clinic Building In Process
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.”
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.
Click below for the donation to the local museum:
Click below for more information:
“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.”
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.
Ascension Via Christ came to Fort Scott to fill in the void of emergency care, following the closure of Mercy Hospital.