Since Mercy Hospital closed in December 2018, many changes have happened at the former facility.
One of those changes is the pharmacy, it has transitioned to operating by Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas personnel.
“The Fort Scott (Mercy) Pharmacy officially transferred to CHC/SEK on April 1,” Krista Postai said.
“We participate in the federal government’s 340B Drug Discount program which allows us to purchase medications at the lowest cost possible,” Postai said. “This makes it possible for us to make sure that cost is never a barrier for people to get their medicines.”
“As a result, we are only allowed to fill prescriptions for patients of a CHC/SEK clinic. Prescriptions from out-of-town specialists may also be filled if they were referred there by one of our physicians and it is documented in their record. Our pharmacists can help with working through that if needed.”
Income from the pharmacy helps cover medicines for those who can’t afford them.
“It is worth mentioning that any income from the pharmacy is redirected back into patient services and helps covers the cost of vouchering medicines for those who can’t afford them, patient navigators, case managers, patient transportation, etc. – resources many patients need but are not reimbursable from other sources,” Postai said.
The staff remains the same.
“Same staff, although we added an additional pharmacist – Julie Pellet – a long-time Mercy employee who had, most recently, worked at the now-closed pharmacy located in Price Chopper,” Postai said.
“Same hours as in the past and delivery as usual,” she said. “Patients can also utilize the drive-through located on the emergency room (south)side of the hospital.”
There have been rumors that CHC/SEK will be leaving the facility in the near future.
“CHC/SEK’s lease for the current clinic in the hospital is for two years, after which we are planning on relocating,” Postai said. “Everything is in the discussion stages, but we know we will need about a 25,000 sq. ft. facility. An initial discussion has been on construction of a new building but we’re not even close to determining which direction we should go yet. We should know more in about a month.”
The past month has been busy for the new Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas staff’s move to the former Mercy Hospital Clinic.
“As expected, we had a few glitches with technology but believe we have internet and phone systems now working well…so thanks to everyone for their patience,” said Krista Postai, CEO for CHC/SEK.
“Patients have been great about getting us signed consents to transfer records – so great, in fact, that we are backlogged….but working through the stack as fast as possible.”
“We also have been very appreciate for all the kindness we’ve been shown…many folks have gone above and beyond.”
“We did get mammography back up and running and are now working at restoring wound care services.”
“We’ve also approached three organizations about the possibility of offering cancer care in Fort Scott to replace the Cancer Center of Kansas who closed their clinic with minimal notice. We’ve had some interest but no commitments.”
“As in the past, we are providing comprehensive primary care including obstetrics. Dr. Burke is now on staff at Via Christi and doing deliveries; Dr. Seals is also doing deliveries at Via Christi and Nevada Medical Center.”
“With the addition of the new clinics, CHC/SEK now employs about 420 – about 40 of these are in the Ft. Scott clinics and about 30 staff are in Arma, Pleasanton and Mound City. We still have openings to fill in registration and nursing, as well as behavioral health where we are looking for a LSCSW or a psychologist (PHD),” Postai said.
“Convenient Care – now Walk-In Care – transitioned Feb. 1; the main clinic on Feb. 4.
“The pharmacy will formally transfer to our ownership April 1. In the interim, Mercy continues to operate it and have contracted with us for the 340B drug discount program which makes it possible for us to provide medications at very low cost for those who are uninsured or have limited finances.
“As we’ve mentioned in the past, our lease in the hospital building is for two years so we continue to explore long-range options. We will need about 20,000 sq. ft. which will allow us to offer more services including dental and behavioral health. Expect to have a decision on the direction we’ll take by May 1.”
“We are working to recruit a pediatrician to Ft. Scott and have interviewed one candidate; also interviewed a dentist with an interest in returning to the area.”
“Phone numbers remain the same. Hours of operation have expanded at the main clinic to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.”
Introducing the Chief Executive Officer of CHC/SEK:
Postai, an original founder and former board member of CHC/SEK. She serves as Chief Executive Officer, according to the CHC/SEK website.
Prior to joining the organization in November 2004, she was vice president of planning and development at Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center. During her 23 years with Mt. Carmel, she was instrumental in the development of several key programs including the regional cancer center, the $17.5 million outpatient expansion completed in 2004, the creation of a physician recruitment and retention program and several mission-directed services including CareVan (a transportation service), Congregational Health Ministry, and the Wesley House Dental Clinic. She served as secretary to the Mount Carmel Foundation and as liaison to the Mt. Carmel Auxiliary.
She attended Pittsburg State University and is a graduate of Kansas University in Lawrence with a Bachelor’s of Science.
Women needing mammography services in Bourbon County and surrounding areas can once again schedule appointments for the procedure close to home. As part of the transition of services from Mercy Health System to the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, the hospital’s 3D Mammography equipment was donated to CHC/SEK. It remains in its original location and staffed by the experienced staff who have been responsible for the service for more than 15 years.
The equipment – considered the most advanced breast screening technology available – was funded when it was originally acquired through a gift from the Mercy Health Center Foundation.
“We all agreed that the women of southeast Kansas – regardless of their ability to pay – should have continued access to this service,” said CHC/SEK Chief Executive Officer Krista Postai. “In our discussions with staff and community members, we found that many women in the region had come to rely upon its availability.” As in the past, regardless of where a woman goes for primary care, she can make an appointment for a mammogram in Ft. Scott.
“We were surprised at how many women have used this service locally saving – for many of them – a trip to Kansas City or elsewhere,” Postai said. “That certainly speaks well for the quality of the program and staff.
“We will now be able to extend this resource further making it more accessible to low-income women through special programs and discounts based on ability to pay,” she said. “Every woman has the right to quality screening and thanks to Mercy, the Mercy Foundation and CHC/SEK that will continue.” Postai went on to add the Foundation has contributed funding toward covering the cost for those in Bourbon County who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
Among the benefits of 3D mammography are more accurate detection resulting in fewer call backs for additional tests. Because of the use of multiple angled images, 3D mammography may help detect cancers earlier than conventional 2D mammography and is especially effective with women with dense breast tissue. It also can help reduce anxiety from false alarms while also delivering a minimal amount of radiation.
Mammography Technicians Jennifer Dugan and Suzanne Quick, well-known to area women, will be managing the program and look forward to continuing to serve women throughout the area.
“We chose to become a part of CHC/SEK because we love their mission and the opportunity to continue serving patients in the community that we have grown to love, as well as reaching out to a whole new group of women,” said Jennifer Dugan.
“It was their obvious commitment to helping women that convinced us that we should continue this service,” said Postai, who described her first meeting with the two technicians as inspirational. “I have never met anyone more dedicated,” she said. “They were far more concerned about their patients than themselves after learning of the hospital’s closure.”
Despite CHC/SEK’s lack of experience with mammography, Postai was confident the two women would make it work. “We’ve all spent the last two months learning the legal, technical and practical aspects of offering this service,” she explained. “Our staff worked closely with the organizations that approve mammography and despite all the hurdles were able to get all approvals within a week of transitioning the equipment to CHC/SEK ownership.”
Finding qualified radiologists to read the mammograms was also a challenge since this equipment is usually located in a hospital or a physician-owned service.
“Fortunately, Alliance Radiology based in Kansas City had originally provided this service to Mercy Fort Scott when it was started and were willing to reconnect,” said Postai. The technicians were very familiar with Alliance and had confidence they would meet local needs.
“This was definitely a team effort and it would not have been possible otherwise,” said Postai adding that the community – and CHC/SEK – owe a thank you to Jennifer and Suzanne for putting their patients first.
On February 6, Connie Jackson, a local resident and former Mercy employee, became the first person to have her mammogram at CHC/SEK. “I was scheduled for a six month follow up after having been diagnosed originally with breast cancer in January 2016. The technicians were so caring and considerate and put me at ease,” she said, urging other women to schedule this live-saving test.
In order to schedule a mammogram, it is not necessary to have a local physician. Women may call 620-223-8040 to make an appointment and test results will be sent to the physician of their choosing. Mammograms can be scheduled between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with expanded hours on Wednesdays to 5:30 p.m. to accommodate work schedules. Additional benefits offered through CHC/SEK include the ability to offer mammography at a lower cost with increased access.
Like Mercy, CHC/SEK is a participant in the Kansas Early Detection Works program with free mammograms available to women between the ages of 45 and 64years who do not have health insurance and otherwise qualify.More information about the program can be found on the Kansas Department of Health website www.kdheks.gov/edw.
CHC/SEK also offers financial assistance and accepts all patients regardless of their ability to pay along with commercial insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. For additional information on CHC/SEK’s financial assistance program go to their website at www.chcsek.org or call 620-231-9873.
The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas is a Federally Qualified Health Center dedicated to providing quality health care to everyone regardless of income or insurance status.CHC/SEK is a patient-owned and operated organization serving more than 50,000 children and adults annually.CHC/SEK employs more than 400 professionals and support staff at 15 clinic sites in Bourbon, Crawford, Cherokee, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, and Allen counties and is governed by a 13- member Board of Directors which includes patients and community representatives.
FOR QUESTIONS CONTACT: Carla Farmer, senior marketing advisor, 620-224-6500
Mercy Hospital’s President Reta Baker signed an agreement with Ascension Via Christi on Jan. 27 to provide emergency room services at the hospital that ends for Mercy today, Jan. 31.
“It is an agreement that Mercy will provide lease space and provide the necessary equipment and furnishings to provide the services of an emergency room,” Baker said.
One issue: there is a gap between the Mercy closing date and when Via Christi will get regulatory approval to provide emergency room services.
“Before Via Christi can operate ER services in this setting and building, they have to have a license from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,” Baker said. “It takes time. It has steps…I think all the parties engaged will work as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
She is estimating a few weeks, but it could be more, she said.
Baker said the ambulance service will take patients to area emergency rooms in the meantime.
“If they call 911, they will take the patient to the closest appropriate ER,” Baker said. “Or if a person wants to take themselves, they could choose which ER they can go to. Pittsburg, Girard, Nevada, Iola, Olathe, Overland Park…all the ER’s are aware of the need.”
The Mercy ambulance service continues under Mercy operation until April 1, then Bourbon County will become the owners, she said.
Baker also addressed the following questions:
What about the hospital pharmacy?
“The pharmacy will continue to operate under Mercy until April 1, then operate under the Community Health Center.”
“Mammography is under CHC.”
“Radiology will be available under Via Christi.”
The administration wing of the hospital will be a Mercy hub work-site, Baker said. “There will be 15 employees working out of the building. (They will have)An assortment of responsibilities to support the business functions of Mercy Regional .”
The patient room wing of the hospital has been partitioned off to prevent the public from entering the area, she said.
Even though it is a sad time, it is an exciting one, she said.
“It’s an exciting new opportunity,” Baker said. “And a new model of care for the community.
The new Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas sign is scheduled to be installed on Friday, Feb. 1, 2109, the day the health care in Fort Scott transitions from Mercy Hospital to CHC/SEK, according to Krista Postai, CHS/SEK President and Chief Executive Officer.
“The hours of operation will remain the same with the exception the main clinic will now be open until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday – which is an hour longer than before – Friday it will close at 5 p.m. as in the past,” Postai said.
CHC/SEK is only using the (hospital) clinic space, she said.
“For the most part, everyone is in the space they used previously….doctors all kept the same offices,” Postai said.
” At some point, we will do an open house and invite the community in,” she said. “But at this point, our priority is to get everyone transitioned over as smoothly as possible. That includes everyone learning a new medical record (system) and getting almost 10,000 records entered into that new medical record (system) which is a mammoth task.”
Each of 17 CHC/SEK clinics has a practice manager to provide daily support and oversight of operations, Postai said.
Amy Budy is the Fort Scott CHC/SEK Practice Manager.
“There may be support staff that works for administration (e.g. medical records) who will office in Ft. Scott, or work from home, because they live there and it saves travel,” she said.
“Leadership will be there often, as needed, but we’re confident that this clinic will run as smoothly as our others with the support of our practice manager,” Postai said.
“All of CHC/SEK Leadership is composed of only six people…who have spent hundreds of hours in Fort Scott – along with at least 30 of our great staff – putting the pieces together to make this (transition) work,” she said. “We expect to put in hundreds of hours more before everything is completely settled and functional.”
The administration is comprised of Postai, Senior Vice President Jason Wesco, Chief Financial Officer Douglas Stuckey, Chief Clinical Officer Linda Bean, Vice President/Human Resources Megan Fry and General Counsel Daniel Creitz who work out of the CHS/SEK System Office at 3015 N. Michigan, according to a prior fortscott.biz interview.
Other management staff includes a Director of School Health, Director of Operations, Pharmacy Director, Dental Director, Director of Behavioral Health, IT Director, Billing Director, and others who provide support for all of clinics and staff, according to the prior interview.
They are located at various sites throughout the area and travel from clinic to clinic to oversee programs.
(Pittsburg, KS) – The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) is preparing for a very busy new year as it will assume operations of five clinics in Bourbon, Linn and Crawford counties beginning January 1.
Following the news that Mercy Health System would be closing the hospital in Fort Scott, it was announced that CHC/SEK would take over operations of Mercy’s primary care clinics in Fort Scott, Pleasanton and Arma.
“Mercy recognized the impact that closing the hospital would have and approached us about preserving access to care in Bourbon and Linn counties,” said CHC/SEK CEO Krista Postai adding that CHC/SEK also recognized the need. “We immediately began working with them on a transition plan.”
CHC/SEK will officially assume operations of the Mercy clinics at 601 East Washington in Arma and 11155 Tucker Road in Pleasanton on January 1. CHC/SEK will also transition the Mound City Family Care clinic — which is owned by the Mound City Medical Foundation and currently under the management of the Olathe Health System — on January 1.
Postai said transition of the Fort Scott clinics will begin on February 1 with Convenient Care at 1624 South National changing its name to CHC/SEK Walk-In Care.
“The hours and services will stay the same,” said Postai. “For most people, the only change they will notice will be the name on the building.”
The main clinic located inside the hospital at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. will be managed by Mercy until January 31. It will then be closed until February 4 when it reopens as part of CHC/SEK. Postai said the clinic will have the same hours and offer the same services.
“We will continue to provide primary medical care along with obstetrics, lab, x-ray and immunizations,” she said. “We also plan to continue to offer mammograms and provide space for specialists including the Cancer Center of Kansas.”
Postai added that CHC/SEK will also operate the retail pharmacy next to the main clinic. “The only difference patients should notice is lower costs for their prescriptions,” she said. “It will have the same hours and you will see the same faces as before.”
Postai said the question she hears most often has to do with staff, particularly which medical providers will be staying with the organization.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Katrina Burke, Dr. Larry Seals, Dr. Maxwell Self and Dr. Pankaj Gugnani from Fort Scott as well as Dr. Jay Allen from Mound City to our medical staff,” said Postai. “Dr. Seals and Dr. Burke will also provide delivery services at Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg.”
Postai added that several nurse practitioners will also make the transition including Amanda Stice, Pamela Moyers, Kristine O’Dell, Hannah Born, Amber Hunziker, Brad Young, Kristyn Milburn, Rhonda Kellstadt, Kim Burns and Kelsey Welch.
“We have also hired local Practice Managers who will be on-site to oversee the daily operations,” said Postai. “Amy Budy will oversee the Bourbon County clinics and Tesia Coffey will be in charge of the clinics in Linn County.”
Postai went on to say the addition of five clinics along with a combined total of more than 15,000 patients and approximately 75 staff members represents an estimated 35 percent growth for CHC/SEK.
“This is not only the largest undertaking in our 15-year history,” she said. “It is quite possibly the most significant.”
In the meantime, Postai said one of the biggest tasks CHC/SEK is working on right now is transferring all of the electronic medical records which can be very time consuming. “Every patient needs to sign a release form in order for us to do that.”
Postai encouraged all current patients of the Mercy clinics or Mound City Family Care to complete the forms which are available on CHC/SEK’s website at www.chcsek.org/medicalrecords.
About Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center dedicated to providing affordable, high quality medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and out