Category Archives: Ascencion Via Christi

Former Mercy Hospital Building Reopening Process Moves Forward

Robert Harrington. Submitted photo.

Noble Health Corporation announced yesterday that in the near future they will be deciding whether it is feasible to reopen a hospital at the former Mercy Hospital facility, according to Rob Harrington, Director of  Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc.

“There will be two more meetings with the (Bourbon County) Commission and then they will begin talking with the public about the outcome of the feasibility study,” Harrington said.

“Today was a good day for Bourbon County and we are excited to see the process continue,” he said.
“The next phases will be dedicated to renovation costs and I believe labor,” he said.
“The study has been completed, however, it contains information that at this time needs to remain confidential until after the property is transferred to Noble by the county,” Harrington said. “We are hopeful that this will happen in January and February when they begin doing their town hall meetings.”


Noble Health Corp. announced in June 2021 that it would explore the possibility of reopening the acute care hospital facility in Fort Scott, according to a previous press release from the corporation.

The corporation, a Kansas City company, engaged in a cooperative agreement with Bourbon County to conduct a feasibility study that could lead to the reopening of the former Mercy Hospital building, located at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd., according to the press release.

The building is located just off Hwy. 69 on Fort Scott’s south side.

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in December of 2018.

Mercy Hospital before it closed in December 2018.

Since that time Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has leased a portion of the building, and Ascension Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg,  has leased the emergency department. Those leases end in December 2022. Fort Scott Community College has leased the western part of the building for student housing.


To view the prior features on Nobel Health in Fort Scott:

Center Honors Fort Scott’s Frontline Workers

The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes is located a 1 S. Main, Fort Scott.

On July 28, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes began a new exhibit entitled”Fort Scott’s Frontline Workers”, highlighting groups of local COVID-19 workers.

Hours at the center, located on Main Street at Wall Street in downtown Fort Scott are  Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The exhibition is pictorial with text that honors first responders from four local agencies, health care workers from five local agencies, and educators in five local public and private schools.

Lowell Milken Center’s Frontline Workers Exhibit, July 2021. Submitted photo.
“Contacts were made to all the different agencies, we received input from several administrators and staff,” Cathy Werling, spokesperson for LMC said.
Cathy Werling is a children’s book author at the Lowell Milken Center For Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, who has published several books depicting unsung heroes at a young child’s level of understanding.

This new exhibit has been made possible with funds received from a Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grant, according to an LMC press release.

“Work began on plans for the project in October of 2020 after we knew we received the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grant,” Werling said. “Contacting and interviewing all of the various frontline worker’s staff began in January of 2021.”

“The Lowell Milken Center’s Fort Scott’s Frontline Heroes project highlights frontline professions within our community who have been directly dealing with pandemic issues in order to provide safe and direct action for our citizens,” according to the press release.

Law enforcement photo from the exhibit.

The following are recognized: firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services workers, health care workers from Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department, Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department, and long-term care facilities, assisted/independent living facilities, and local teachers/administrators at schools.

Educators. Photo from the exhibit.

“The LMC believes these groups of workers are truly Fort Scott’s unsung heroes, as they have given so much of themselves to our community’s citizens during the pandemic and continue to do so,” according to the press release. “We encourage all Fort Scott area citizens to support these heroes by viewing the new exhibits at the Lowell Milken Center, sharing words of gratitude and support in the LMC guest book and through the LMC’s social media pages on Facebook –, Twitter –, and Instagram –”

Emergency Medical Services workers. Photo from the exhibit.


About the Lowell Milken Center: The Lowell Milken Center is a non-profit 501 © (3) that works with students and educators within a range of diverse academic disciplines, to develop projects focused on unsung heroes. Once their projects are finished, the student’s unsung heroes are shared in the Hall of Unsung Heroes or on the website, encouraging people all over the world to discover their individual influence and obligation to take actions that improve the lives of others. The Hall of Unsung Heroes is proudly located in Southeast Kansas and showcases some of the top projects developed in collaboration with the Center.


51 Ventilated COVID Patients Last Week in Crawford County

Local health professionals encourage people to celebrate safely

Crawford County Covid-19 cases are increasing, as well as throughout the region and they are already affecting local and regional hospitals, according to Dr. Tim Stebbins, Crawford County Health Officer and Director at Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department.  


With the July 4 holiday approaching, Stebbins is concerned that traditional celebrations, including family and community gatherings, will increase the risk for transmission of Covid-19 and cause possible serious medical impact, especially on those who are not vaccinated against the disease.  


Since the initial wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, Via-Christi Hospital in Pittsburg has gone from single digits of Covid-19 patients weekly back up into the 20s, and last week to 51 including ventilated patients with admissions on track for similar numbers this week. 


Stebbins says nationally, 80-90% of new infections are in the unvaccinated/nonimmune group, with more than 90% of hospitalizations in the same group. Over the last few months, 98% or more of the deaths from Covid-19 are in the unvaccinated/nonimmune group. 


Health officials have confirmed some of the new infections in Crawford County are the Delta variant of Covid-19.  


As of mid-June 2021, the CDC estimates the Delta variant is accounting for 20% of new cases in the United States. The delta variant is challenging because it is highly transmissible and affects the younger age groups. 

In milder cases, infected individuals may mistake the symptoms for a bad cold and not realize they need to isolate. Common symptoms reported have been headaches, sore throat, a runny nose, or fever.


Testing for COVID-19 is an essential part of containing the disease, and the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has rapid testing available seven days a week. The Crawford County Health Department can also provide rapid testing.  


For most vaccinated people, the current COVID-19 vaccines effectively prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from all current strains of the virus. Previous illness with Covid-19 also seems to provide some immunity from the disease. 


“Everyone should consider their own risk when celebrating, including their own current health and vaccination or immune status,” Stebbins says. “If you have any immune compromising disease or illness, such as cancer, you should carefully weigh the risks and consider mitigation.” 


Strategies to help prevent Covid-19 infection include handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask. It is especially important that all individuals, regardless of immune status, stay home if they think they might be ill. 


The single greatest protection against COVID-19 for individuals age 12 and up is vaccination. Crawford County has a robust vaccination capability and vaccinations can be found through nearly all local pharmacies, SEK Urgent Care, PSU Health, Community Health Centers of Southeast Kansas, and the Crawford County Health Department. Three different vaccines are available in the County and vaccination is available to anyone 12 or older.


It is possible for all of us to celebrate this holiday safely and to minimize the risk of harm to our family and friends, Stebbins says. “Everyone should consider their own risk when celebrating including their current health and vaccination or immune status. We must all be smart in what we do, consider the risks, mitigate if appropriate, and seriously consider vaccination to prevent further spread and impact of this disease.”


Bourbon County Government to Receive Former Mercy Building

The Bourbon County Commission room in the courthouse, September 2018.

The Bourbon County Commission will be receiving the former Mercy Hospital building at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. and $600,000 from Mercy as a donation to the county, Rob Harrington, Bourbon County Economic Development Director said in an email.

Robert Harrington. Submitted photo.

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in October 2018.

The Sisters of Mercy had served the community since 1886.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has had a clinic at the building since Mercy closed, but is moving when its’ lease is up at the end of 2022.

They have purchased the former Price Chopper store, 2322 Main Street, for their new facility.

The emergency department at the former hospital building also has a lease that will be up in 2022.

The county commission has been working on a solution to keep the building viable, as opposed to tearing the two-decades-old building down.

“Today is the beginning of a process, “Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth said. “The attorneys will be going through the process of accepting the donation and the $600,000.”

Clifton Beth represents District 3. Photo from Facebook.

“We are in conversation with different entities that could potentially have use for that building,” Beth said.

The Bourbon County Commission is comprised of Beth, Lynne Oharah and Jim Harris.

First District Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah.
Jim Harris, Bourbon County Commissioner, District 2.

Beth said credit needs to go to Harrington who has been working to find entities that are interested.

“A lot of behind-the-scenes work is going on,” Beth said.

“We are trying to save the building,” Beth said. “My main priority is to have an Emergency Room in Bourbon County.”

“At the end of the day, the end users for that building, if they can use it, great,” Beth said. “If not, we’ll look at other options.”

“My goal is to be sure we have an ER,” Beth said. “Ascension Via Christi has one-and-one-half years left on their (current) lease. In conversations with them, they are planning to stay.”

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

To see more info on Ascension Via Christi:

Via Christi To Operate Fort Scott Emergency Room

Ascension Via Christi/Fort Scott Celebrates Opening of Emergency Department

Chamber Coffee At Ascension Via Christi Feb. 25: Drive-Through

This week is a
Chamber Coffee!
Chamber members are invited to join Ascension Via Christi in Celebrating their 2nd Anniversary of operating the
Emergency Department in Fort Scott!
Thursday, February 25th
Drive-thru will be set up at the Emergency Department Helipad
401 Woodland Hills Blvd.
(south side of building)
Arrive any time between 8 to 9am
for donuts & coffee in a
complimentary reusable coffee cup!
Rain or Shine!
Drew Talbott, Ascension Via Christi President,
Tawny Sandifer, Vice President of Operations, and the ED staff
are excited to greet everyone and celebrate serving Fort Scott, Bourbon County, and the area with emergency services.
Ascension Via Christi says THANK YOU to the
community for your support!
Masks are strongly encouraged for the
drive-thru event.
Tune in to the Chamber’s Facebook page
for a Facebook Live.
Call the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce
with any questions ~ 620.223.3566.
Upcoming Chamber Coffee Schedule
  • March 4th “OPEN” Call the Chamber to schedule
  • March 11th “OPEN” Call the Chamber to schedule
  • March 18th hosted by Briggs Auto of FS – Celebrating Birthday week Anniversary (6 years)
  • March 25th hosted by NRMC – location TBA
  • April 1st hosted by Jose’s Barber Shop (New Business)
  • April 8th “OPEN” Call the Chamber to schedule
  • April 15th hosted by Fort Scott Christian Heights
  • April 22nd hosted by Bourbon County Conservation District
  • April 29th hosted by Papa Don’s Pizza

Chamber Coffee At Ascension Via Christ Emergency Department Feb. 25


Save the date for Chamber Coffee for February 25, 2021!

The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce announces that the Chamber Coffee will be hosted by Ascension Via Christi ER Department on Thursday, February 25th at 8:00 a.m. at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. Ascension Via Christi ER Department will be celebrating their Two-Year Anniversary in Fort Scott with a Drive-Thru hosting and serving coffee, donuts and a Free Mug for the Chamber Members and guest.

The Fort Scott Chamber President, Lindsay Madison will able to livestream video via Facebook while meeting and greeting the staff of the ER department. Other Chamber Members are welcomed to be part of the meet & great as well.

All attendees are strongly encouraged to wear masks and masks will be available for those without one and practice social distancing.

The Chamber is now booking Coffees for 2021 calendar year. Any member business or organization wanting to host may contact the Chamber to reserve a date at 620-223-3566 or email

Chamber members and guests are invited to Chamber Coffee events each Thursday at 8 a.m. to network, make announcements, hear about happenings in the community as well as learn about the host business or organization.


CHC/SEK In Negotiations With Price Chopper to Move to 2322 S. Main

Krista Postai. Submitted photo.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is in negotiation with the owners of the former Price Chopper building to acquire it, Krista Postai, CHC/SEK President and CEO, said in an email interview.


“However the details are not yet finalized,” she said. “Following the closure of the store in 2019, the health center identified the building as a potential site to house a future clinic based on the uncertainty surrounding the future of the existing hospital building at that time,”  she said.


“The large size and convenient location would allow us to bring our medical clinic, walk-in care, and pharmacy into one location with enough space to allow additional expansions if needed,” Postai said.


The Price Chopper building is located at 2322 S. Main and has been empty since 2019.


The Price Chopper building Nov. 2017, prior to opening.


The CHC/SEK lease for the clinic space at the former Mercy Hospital building at 401 Woodland Hills expired on December 31, 2020,Postai said.


Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas.

Postai said CHC/SEK needed to “move forward on determining a long-range plan for a permanent home for our clinic.”


“We did secure an additional two-year lease from Mercy Health System in December – who remains the owner on the building —  on our existing clinic space, with the understanding from Mercy that there was no option to renew,” she said.



“Mercy also donated several acres of land behind the existing hospital to CHC/SEK and we were planning new construction when the opportunity to acquire the Price Chopper Building was once again raised,” Postai said.



“We had originally pursued the possibility of utilizing that space (the Price Chopper building) in collaboration with Ascension Via Christi when it first became available but were in the midst of transitioning both the clinic and the Emergency Room over from Mercy which was the priority for both organizations,” she said. “We did, however, remain in contact with the owners of the building who were anxious to see this space utilized once again.”



“With our plans to now move forward on acquiring the former grocery store, we have reconnected with Ascension Via Christi regarding the possibility of future collaboration and are in serious discussions with their senior leadership,” she said.



“We remain committed – as does Ascension Via Christi – to ensuring the residents of Bourbon County have access to primary and emergency care today and into the future,” Postai said.



Via Christi Receives SPARK Funds For COVID-19 Staff and Drugs

Via Christi’s Emergency Department in Fort Scott.

Recently over 100  Bourbon County businesses, organizations, school districts, churches and other categories of entities received  SPARk Grants to help with COVID-19 expenses.

The see the whole list of recipients, click below:


The Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) taskforce plan is to lead Kansas forward in recovery from the far-reaching effects of COVID-19, according to its’ website,

SPARK is responsible for the statewide distribution of the U.S. Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The total amount of grants disbursed in Bourbon County were
$2,835,212.86, according to information provided by Bourbon County Economic Director Jody Hoener.


Ascension Via Christi Pittsburg Inc. received $203,150 for its’ emergency department in Bourbon County in October 2020.

 The vast majority of the funding we received allowed us to provide additional staffing for the Covid-19  patient surge and the increased utilization of targeted pharmaceuticals for Covid treatment,” said Michelle Kennedy, Ascension Via Christi Senior Specialist for
Marketing and  Communications.

Ascension Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg, Ks. Submitted photo.

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.