Category Archives: Health Care

Community Health Center Extends Services

Updated Oct. 17

Krista Postai

Krista Postai, President and CEO of Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, said they expanding services.

Mercy Hospital announced in October 2018 that they would be closing December 2018.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.

CHC/SEK then  assumed responsibilities, securing physicians and staff to provide a clinic to the community at the Mercy Hospital site, 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.

The CHC/SEK is currently planning to build a new facility on the Horton Street side of the former Mercy Hospital site.

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

“We have selected an architect for our new Fort Scott clinic,” Postai said.  “It’s Zingre and Associates from Ft. Scott and  we are in the midst of designing the new facility.”

“We only have a two-year lease for our current space which Mercy clearly indicated is not renewable,” Postai said. “We knew from the beginning that we would have to build a new clinic, which we’ve shared publically to the various groups we’ve talked with, including the city and county. To help make our startup affordable in Ft. Scott and give us time to plan, Mercy discounted the rent amount for us and  everyone in there, which is greatly appreciated.”

“Overhead (electricity, gas, etc.) is extremely expensive in the existing space, as is ongoing maintenance on the building,” Postai said. ” So there is no way we could assume the financial burden of a 177,000 sq. ft. building that is only being minimally utilized. Others who have evaluated ownership of the building came to the same conclusion. We know Mercy recognizes that and have evaluated options including demolition although, to my knowledge, no final decision has been reached.”

“CHC/SEK is planning on expanding its services to include dental care, mental health care, a women’s center, more accessible pharmacy, etc. which can’t be accomplished in the existing space we now occupy without a major investment in renovation in a building with a uncertain future,” Postai said.  “Our model of care also supports integration of services. For example, children coming in for their well child check may also have a visit with the dentist or someone struggling to manage their diabetes may meet with a therapist or a patient educator as part of their medical visit. Numerous support staff also coordinate care or work with special populations (e.g. expectant mothers)  which requires space within the clinic. So, we’re working with our Ft. Scott staff to determine what they want and need in a new building built specifically to support our ‘one-stop’ approach or, as our vision says, ‘Healthcare The Way It Should Be.'”


In addition, CHC/SEK also  will assume responsibility of Mercy’s clinic in Columbus in January 2020, Postai said.

” We will be combining our existing Columbus clinic with Mercy’s clinic,”  Postai said.  “Mercy will continue to manage the hospital in Columbus which is owned by the city.”

Postai said CHC/SEK is also extending its reach into Oklahoma.

“CHC/SEK was one of 77 health centers in the U.S. to receive grants to open new health centers and we will be doing so in Miami and Wyandotte, Oklahoma,” she said. ” Our center in Miami is currently operated by Mercy who asked us if we would assume responsibility and we agreed to do so. The one in Wyandotte is in a school and will primarily serve the students, their families and school staff. We will have the clinics open before the end of the year.”


The organization is also working to secure future doctors for the area, and former Mercy Hospital CEO Reta Baker was selected to administer the program to do just that.

Reta Baker is now CHC/SEK’s Vice President of Clinical Education, with the office located in Pittsburg.

“We also are working with the University of Kansas School of Medicine to establish a family practice residency program in southeast Kansas,” Postai said. “To provide administrative oversight of this program – and all of our clinical education students – is Reta Baker, former hospital CEO in Ft. Scott. She has been named VP/Clinical Education and her office is located in CHC/SEK’s system office in Pittsburg.”

With all the outreach activity of CHC/SEK, “We are nearing 500 full-time employees,” Postai said.

Here is the list of CHS/SEK outreach from Krista Postai:

“Crawford County:  Our main clinic in Pittsburg plus a dental-only clinic downtown and we just opened a school-based health center in Pittsburg High School. A mobile medical van goes daily to the middle school and elementary schools. We also have the clinic in Arma.

Cherokee County … we have a clinic in Baxter Springs and Columbus.

Bourbon County … we have Walk-in Care and the main Ft. Scott clinic.

Linn County … we have clinics in Mound City and Pleasanton.

Labette County – we have a clinic in Parsons.

Montgomery County – we have a clinic in Independence and three in Coffeyville – a main clinic, one in the elementary school and one in the middle/high school.

Allen County – we have a clinic in Iola.

We will be opening two clinics in Ottawa County, OK in December – one in Miami and one in the Wyandotte Schools.

We also employ nurses in multiple schools, as well as behavioral health specialists throughout the region.”

CHCSEK offices are located at 3011 N. Michigan, Pittsburg, KS 66762. The phone number is 620-235-1867.

The CHC/SEK Clinic in Fort Scott’s number is 223-8040.

Council on Medicaid Expansion Meets

Governor launches first meeting of bipartisan Council on Medicaid Expansion


Governor Laura Kelly’s call for a bipartisan, Kansas-specific plan to expand Medicaid coverage took an important step forward Monday with the first meeting of the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion.


“Many Kansans struggle to cover the costs of basic health care. Some people can’t afford coverage at all. The status quo is not working for Kansans,” Kelly said. “No family should have to choose between health coverage and paying the mortgage.”


Medicaid expansion would provide access to affordable healthcare for approximately 150,000 Kansans who fall in the “coverage gap,” where an individual does not qualify for Medicaid, but does not make enough to afford healthcare.


In the 2019 legislative session, Governor Kelly presented a Medicaid expansion plan with bipartisan support that mirrored a similar bill that passed both chambers in 2017, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by then-Governor Sam Brownback.


Last session the House of Representatives passed the Governor’s bill, but the Senate did not allow a vote. Instead, the Senate promised to vote on a Medicaid expansion bill in the early months of the 2020 legislative session.


“As I’ve made clear, Medicaid expansion tops my 2020 priority list,” Kelly said. “I was encouraged that both chambers and both parties ended the last session in agreement: 2020 will be the year we finally get this done.


“After all the years Kansans have had to wait for Medicaid expansion, we must get this right.


“That’s why we need some kind of ‘compass’ to help prevent things from veering too far off course should unvetted, risky policies surface at the end of the process. I hope whatever you come up with can be used as one tool to help evaluate whether various ideas move us closer to —  or further away from — our desired outcomes as a state.”


Governor Kelly asked the Council to focus on two questions:


  1. What do we need Medicaid expansion to achieve for Kansas?
  2. What can we learn from other expansion states that will help — or hinder — those goals?


“Good public policy is the product of thoughtful, bipartisan discussions, supported by data-driven decision-making. That’s the conversation I am asking this Council to have,” Kelly said. 


Among discussed items during the initial Council meeting:


  1. A review of the Medicaid expansion landscape across the U.S., with a focus on the fiscal and health impacts associated with expansion as well the different policy levers used in implementation. Overall, expansion states saw a substantial decline in the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults, as well as improved financial and health outcomes for recipients.


  1. An overview of the Kansas Medicaid system, KanCare, and the promising impact of expansion on access to preventative and behavioral healthcare for low-income Kansans.


  1. Presentations by experts from Montana and Ohio on the economic and health outcomes associated with expansion. Montana found that Medicaid made it easier for residents to find work, generated about $30 million in yearly cost savings, and increased access to care for veterans and their families. Ohio saw similar benefits, noting expansion’s role increasing the state’s capacity for behavioral health services and decreasing medical debt for enrollees by half.


The Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion’s next meeting is Oct. 29.


For access to the handouts, slides, Executive Order and other materials, go to:

Air Ambulances?

The following is part of a series that National Public Radio is doing on the closure of Mercy Hospital in December 2018.
Sarah Jane Tribble shared a link to the group: No Mercy: What Happens When A Rural Hospital Closes?

The latest out of Fort Scott and the No Mercy series. Big thanks to Dawn Swisher-Anderson, who allowed me to interview her wise and well-spoken kids. Both Susan Glossip and Dawn told me last week that they did not buy a membership.

One Kansan Dead in Vaping Outbreak

Health Officials Report Death in Vaping Related Lung Disease


Kansas health officials have confirmed the first death in the state associated with an outbreak of serious lung disease related to vaping or using e-cigarettes.

The recent death was a Kansas resident over the age of 50. According to Kansas State Epidemiologist Dr. Farah Ahmed, the patient had a history of underlying health issues and was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly.

The national investigation has not identified any specific vaping or e-cigarette products linked to all cases. Many patients report using vaping or e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol.

Kansas does not have detailed information on what types of products were used by the deceased.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of the person who died,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Health officials are working hard to determine a cause and share information to prevent additional injuries. As that work continues, I urge Kansans to be careful. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and please follow the recommendations of public health officials.”

Kansas State Health Officer and Secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Dr. Lee Norman said health officials nationwide continue to work aggressively to gather information and determine what has caused these lung injuries.

“It is time to stop vaping.” Secretary Norman said. “If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping related lung injuries and death.”

To date, Kansas has six reports associated with the outbreak. Three patients have been classified as confirmed or probable cases and three cases are still under investigation. State investigators determine if cases are confirmed or probable after examining the medical records of suspected cases and consulting with the clinical care team to exclude other possible cases.

To protect patient confidentiality, no further information will be provided regarding each of these cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the addition of the Kansas report, is reporting 6 deaths and more than 450 possible cases of severe lung injury in 33 states and one jurisdiction.

While investigations into these cases continue, CDC is recommending people avoid vaping or using e-cigarettes.

Also, people with a history of vaping who are experiencing lung injury symptoms should seek medical care.

Nationally, symptoms among cases included shortness of breath, fever, cough, and vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported by some patients included headache, dizziness and chest pain.

For individuals wanting more information on how to quit tobacco products, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Click below for more information:


Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention

State Agencies Join Together to Create Youth Suicide Prevention Resource


TOPEKA – In support of September as Suicide Prevention Month and National Suicide Prevention Week September 8-14, state agencies, along with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, are releasing a unified resource that outlines actions that all Kansans can take to protect and empower youth.


“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Kansans age 15 to 24 and it is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 5 to 14 – this is unacceptable,” said Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “Every one of us has a role to play, whether you’re a friend, parent, community member or school employee. We need to come together to help our youth.”

The resources, which can be found online, identify actions that everyone can take. The agencies involved in its creation include: KDHE, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, in collaboration with the Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

“As we mark National Suicide Prevention Week, I want to commend the work of all the agencies involved in creating the tip sheets as resources for Kansans and look forward to working closely together as we lead a collaborative effort to strengthen the overall Kansas response to youth suicide,” said Gina Meier-Hummel, Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Resource Link:


Kansas Medicaid Expansion

Governor Kelly announces the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion


Today, Governor Laura Kelly announced the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion. This Council of legislators, policy experts, advocates, stakeholders and community leaders will spearhead the Medicaid expansion efforts in the 2020 legislative session.


The members of the Council and their current positions are listed below:


Tom Bell – President and CEO, Kansas Hospital Association

Sen. Ed Berger – State Senator, District 34

Rep. Susan Concannon – State Representative, District 107

Denise Cyzman – CEO, Community Care Network of Kansas

Ximena Garcia M.D., Community Health Advocate

Cathy Harding – President and CEO, Wyandotte Health Foundation

Rep. Don Hineman – State Representative, District 118

April Holman – Executive Director, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas

Dave Kerr, former president of the Kansas Senate

Kyle Kessler – Executive Director, Association of Community Mental Health Centers

Sen. Carolyn McGinn – State Senator, District 31

Rep. Monica Murnan – State Representative, District 3

Dr. Lee Norman – Secretary, Kansas Department of Health and Environment

David K. Livingston – CEO, Aetna Better Health of Kansas

Sen. Pat Pettey – State Senator, District 6

Rep. Jason Probst – State Representative, District 102

Jerry Slaughter – Interim Executive Director, Kansas Medical Society

Kevin Sparks – CEO, United Health Community Plan for Kansas

Michael Stephens – President and CEO, Sunflower Health Plan

Sen. Gene Suellentrop – State Senator, District 27

Suzanne Wikle – Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy

Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore – State Representative, District 36



Fresenius Kidney Care Closes Sept. 30 in Fort Scott.


“After careful consideration, we have made the decision to close the kidney dialysis center at Fresenius Kidney Care located at 2526 S. Main St, Fort Scott, KS 66701 on September 30, 2019. Staff are working diligently with each patient to ensure seamless continuation of treatment, either with the option to dialyze at home or at one of two other clinics in the region. Fresenius Kidney Care will continue to support the clinic’s home therapy patients after the closure.”


“This move toward home therapy reflects a national trend, aligning with the  (President Trump) administration’s recent executive order to increase access to home dialysis, which so often is the best treatment for patients, empowering them to participate in their own care in the comfort of their homes.

—Fresenius Kidney Care Regional Vice President, Scott Ochs


Another option is for the patient to find a caregiver to assist with dialysis treatments at the patient’s home.


“If a patient has a caregiver available to help with treatments, we will train them to provide the care, through our Fresenius Kidney Care home training programs, we will work with both the patient and the caregiver until they are ready to administer treatments on their own,” said Shirley Irvin BSN, RN, CDN, Fresenius Director of Operations Home Therapies.

Chamber Coffee at Health Department Sept. 5

Join us for Chamber Coffee and a
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Hosted by:
SEK Multi-County Health Department


524 S. Lowman St.
Thursday, September 5, 2019  at 8:00 a.m.
Chamber members and guests are encouraged to attend for networking, community announcements, and to learn about the hosting business or organization.
Members may pay $1 to make an announcement about an upcoming event, special/sale/discount, or news of any kind.
Upcoming Coffees:
September 12 – Stutesman’s Action Realty (New Location: 120 E. Wall St.)
September 19 – Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (1 S. Main St.)
September 26 – Diehl Banwart Bolton CPA’s P.A. (70th Anniversary)
October 3 – Gordon Parks Museum (16th Anniversary)

Health Department Ribbon Cutting Sept. 5

The Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony celebrating the opening of
Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department’s
new location this
Thursday, September 5th
immediately following the Chamber Coffee
Please join
Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department
and the Chamber of Commerce
this Thursday, September 5th
for the ribbon cutting ceremony at
524 S. Lowman St. in Fort Scott.
The public health department has relocated from behind the Bourbon County Courthouse to this new, more convenient location. According to Fort Scott Biz, “the employees can serve the community in a larger and more visible building with services such as physicals, immunizations, pregnancy tests, family planning, Kan Be Healthy screenings, blood pressure and blood glucose checks, hearing and vision screenings, SRS referrals, sexually transmitted disease testing, and lab and blood draws.”
Visit SEKMCHS’s website HERE.
Contact the Chamber for more information at 620-223-3566
or visit

Fort Scott Dialysis Center to Close Sept. 30

Fresenius Medical Center, 2526 S. Main, Fort Scott.


Fresenius Medical Care of Fort Scott, the only dialysis clinic in the community, is closing September 30.

Shirley Irvin, a representative of Fresenius, did verify that the center will close on September 30. A formal statement from the company was not available at publishing time.

“I have talked to Fresenius,” Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin, said. “They haven’t made money to the point of, they can’t stay open.”

“We are reaching out to see where we are able to help,” Martin said. “CHC (Community Health Center, who has a medical clinic in Fort Scott) and Via Christi ( who has an emergency department in Fort Scott) can’t provide the service, but they are helping me look at options.”

The closing will impact patients and their families that have been served at the center in Fort Scott.

Several family members were waiting on their loved ones at the center on Friday afternoon.

One young lady helped her father-in-law in a wheelchair into their car.

She stated that the family lives in Moran and now will have to drive to Chanute, Pittsburg or Nevada, MO for dialysis.

Another woman was waiting in the waiting room for her husband, whom she said just started dialysis last week.

She stated that her husband will, hopefully, be finished with his dialysis by the end of the month. His treatment was in response to an infection. They live in Missouri.


The following is a quote from a KOAM News segment on July 24, 2019:

“An executive order from President Trump gives the secretary of health and human services a number of deadlines to deal with kidney disease patients.

“In thirty days after July 10th, 2019, he is to pick payment models for kidney care providers to increase treatments for at-risk patients, home dialysis, and transplants.

“In ninety days to propose regulation to enhance procurement and utilization of organs; revise rules for procuring and using organs and to remove financial barriers to donation.

“And in 120 days to start an awareness initiative.

“Then in 180 days to expedite kidney matching and reduce the organ discard rate.”

Click below the recent KOAM News story on the subject:

See President Trump’s executive order on  advancing kidney health:

An excerpt from Trump’s order:

“Kidney disease was the ninth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2017. Approximately 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and more than 726,000 have ESRD. More than 100,000 Americans begin dialysis each year to treat ESRD. Twenty percent die within a year; fifty percent die within 5 years. Currently, nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waiting list to receive a kidney transplant.”

Brain Injury Waiver Expanded

Governor Kelly Applauds KDADS Expansion of HCBS Brain Injury Waiver;

Services to now include individuals age 16 years and older with traumatic or acquired brain injury


TOPEKA – The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) is pleased to announce the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved its Brain Injury Waiver to include both acquired and traumatic brain injuries for individuals ages 16 years and older.


“Secretary Howard and her team at KDADS have accomplished what is a true collaboration between her agency and interested stakeholders and community partners,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I believe expanding inclusion for this wavier will positively impact many Kansans and I’m grateful for the time and effort so many people put into making it happen.”


In accordance with a legislative proviso, the expanded waiver makes eligible for services under the traumatic brain injury home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver under the Kansas medical assistance program (KanCare):

  1. Individuals with a documented brain injury acquired from a cause not already covered under the traumatic brain injury waiver, including, but not limited to, stroke, brain trauma, infection of the brain, brain tumor, anorexia or other cause; and
  2. Individuals of any age who would otherwise qualify for services under the traumatic brain injury waiver but for the individual’s age.


“Working with the legislature and collaborating with partners is part of my team’s commitment to continue the long-standing leadership in home and community-based services people expect from KDADS,” Secretary Howard said. “We will continue to look at and talk about innovative ways to approach waiver renewals from a people-first perspective.”


KDADS plans to submit an amendment to CMS later this year to include children younger than age 16 years. Kansas is the first state to propose including children in its brain injury waiver.

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.