Category Archives: Mercy Hospital

Bill Brittain Thanks Congressman Watkins For Help On Former Mercy Building

Submitted by Bill Brittain.

Bill Brittain, left, shakes hands with U.S. House of Representative from Kansas, Steve Watkins. Submitted photo.


“On July 10, I was able to publicly thank Congressman Steve Watkins for his help on the Mercy facility.

The Congressman was in town Friday at the Nu-Grille (restaurant) for a small group discussion passing through for other stops for the day.

Several months ago I reached out to him and his office with an idea to save the  (former)Mercy Hospital facility.

After I reached out to them he sent one of his staff to meet with me.
His staff came to some of the meetings we set up with other people of interest such as the city, CHC, Via Christi and others. His office made contact with the person with Mercy headquarters and arranged a phone meeting between that person and myself along with the Congressman’s staff member.
They have searched for Government grants that might be of assistance for Bourbon County to use.
They opened doors that we could not get open and that is what allowed the process to move forward!

He and his staff have been instrumental with helping us get to where
we are today!

I would also like to thank the Bourbon County Commissioners for taking bold action by accepting the donation of the facility!

By doing so I believe we will ensure our community will have good healthcare options available in a nice facility for many years to come.

Our hope is to fill this facility with several healthcare options and I am in hopes that we will have hospital services at some point down
the road.

Jody Hoener, the Bourbon County Economic Director has also worked very hard in spearheading meetings, making contacts, and looking for grants.

It definitely, like many things, takes action from many but
without Congressman Watkins Office I don’t think we could have got the ball rolling!

Health Care Mall Being Formed by Bourbon County

Jody Hoener, Bourbon County Economic Development Director. Submitted photo.

Bourbon County Economic Director Jody Hoener is working on securing leases in the former Mercy Hospital building on Fort Scott’s south end, in hopes of providing the county with a medical mall.


A medical mall is a facility offering comprehensive ambulatory medical services such as primary and secondary care, diagnostic procedures, outpatient surgery, and rehabilitation, except the overnight beds, according to


“Bourbon County demographics show proportionately more elderly, more children living in poverty, lower incomes, and more chronic health conditions,” Hoener said.  ” In addition, our community recently felt the impact of fewer health services (with the closing of Mercy Hospital in 2018).  Rural health systems can overcome these challenges by creating linkages and efficiencies.”


“Access to robust and diverse health services is much more than a quality of life issue,” she said.  “A vigorous and thriving health care system is essential not only for public health and welfare, but to enhance economic opportunity as well.”


Health organizations that currently have a part in Bourbon County health care have shown interest.


“We are currently working on leases with Community Health Centers of Southeast Kansas and Ascension Via Christi,” she said.  “These leases will be ten-year long-term contracts,” she said. “Fort Scott Community College Nursing program will also be leasing space through an inter-local agreement.”


Other entities have  “paused” conversations.


“Although we have been in talks with additional healthcare providers to occupy space, the COVID-19 pandemic has paused much of these conversations.,” Hoener said.  “Recruitment activities will be a high priority with a goal of one additional anchor tenant in the next 3-5 years.”


The combined operation of many entities under one roof provides financial benefits to each involved, Hoener believes.


“The healthcare mall addresses many challenges local providers face in an innovative approach, creating synergy within the four walls, that will help each organization’s bottom line,” she said. ” In general, there are fewer healthcare providers in rural areas, and they operate on very thin profit margins.  When compared to urban communities, our local health providers face unique challenges.”


Bourbon County’s vision for the community:

“Our vision is a healthy, safe, and thriving Bourbon County.,” she said. “A strong health care system is a critical piece of any community’s vitality and sustainability.”


The healthcare industry impacts the local economy.


“The healthcare industry is rapidly changing and has the potential to greatly impact access to these services in the future, ” Hoener said.


“Through the healthcare mall, we are becoming proactive in maintaining high-quality local health care services. In addition to health outcomes, healthcare services have shown to have an impact on:

  • Attracting and maintaining business and industry growth
  • Attracting and retaining retirees
  • Creating higher-paying jobs in a growing sector
  • Contributing to public finances, supporting essential public services”


” Americans are spending more dollars on healthcare,” Hoener said. “In 1970 healthcare costs accounted for 7.0 percent of the GDP.  In 2017, Americans spent $3.5 trillion on healthcare, or 18.0 percent of the GDP.  The projected GDP is 19.4 percent by 2027 (Kansas Health Association, 2019).  Capturing a share of this economic growth will only help our community.”


“When residents spend health care dollars elsewhere, rather than purchasing the service locally, it can have a negative economic impact and result in loss of dollars within our local community,” she said. “Out of town trips to obtain healthcare services naturally offer opportunities to spend dollars outside of town that may have been spent locally.”


“Nationwide, employment in healthcare services increased 92 percent from 1990 to 2015.  For Bourbon County, in 2017, health services ranked number 3 in terms of employment,” she said. ” Also, in 2017, the health care sector’s impact on retail sales was $19,308,000, county sales tax impact of $270,000, and a total impact of $65,378,000. (Kansas Health Association, 2017).”


“Industry and business leaders look for good health and education services when making location decisions,” Hoener said. “They also want to ensure the local labor force will meet their needs.”


” Attracting and maintaining retirees is also important as this is a special group of residents whose spending can provide a significant source of income for the local economy.”

The west end of the former Mercy Hospital is vacant. The county government is working to create a medical mall in the vacant section.

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.

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.

NPR Hospital Closings In Small Towns

Sarah Jane Tribble, of National Public Radio, published this to her Facebook page.

She has been publishing stories on Fort Scott’s Mercy Hospital closing.

No Mercy: What Happens When A Rural Hospital Closes?
Here & There Host Dave Marash and I spent an thoughtful hour discussing No Mercy and rural hospital closures for his radio show on KSFR Sante Fe Public Radio. Listen here:

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.


No Mercy: The First In The NPR Series On The Closing Of Fort Scott’s Hospital

No Mercy

This is the first story in a National Public Radio series that will explore how the closure of a rural hospital, Mercy Hospital Fort Scott,  disrupts a community’s health care, economy and identity.

Across the country,  more than 100 rural hospitals like Fort Scott’s have closed since 2010, under increasing financial pressure.

Because of public response, NPR added a Facebook page for public comments, see the last link in this feature.

Click below for the story:


A Facebook page has been added by NPR because of the tremendous public response:

Mercy Donates to Via Christi

Holding the check facsimile – Former President and CEO of Mercy Reta Baker and  President and CEO of Ascension Via Christi-Pittsburg Randy Cason;  second row-Kayla Stewart, Via Christi-Bryan Holt, Mercy Foundation-Bill Michaud, Foundation; third row-Nicole Brown, Via Christi-Brooke Newell, Via Christi-Barb Dunlap, Via Christi- Holly Ryan, Via Christi; fourth row- Becky Tourtillott, Foundation-Alysia Johnston, Foundation. Submitted photo, dated April 22, 2019.

Mercy Health Foundation Donates $200,000 to Ascension/Via Christi for Continuation of Emergency Services in Fort Scott

Access to numerous health care services has remained intact following the closure of Mercy Hospital in December 2018, due in part to substantial donations from Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott, according to a press release from Mercy Hospital Foundation.

In their continued support of healthcare in the community, the foundation board agreed to donate $200,000 to the Ascension/Via Christi Emergency Department, Ft. Scott to ensure the continuation of essential health care services for residents of Fort Scott and Bourbon County.

Natalie Snyder, RN; Kristi Harbit, RN and Cheryl Koppa, RN, all of Fort Scott are members of the Ascension Via Christi staff in Fort Scott. This photo was taken the day of the grand opening of the Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department, Feb. 28.

Emergency care, lab, and radiology services are currently available at the prior Mercy location, 403 Woodlands Blvd., south of Fort Scott, just off 69 Hwy. and are being provided by Ascension/Via Christi. The funds are intended to facilitate technology and equipment for the emergency services.

Funds donated by Mercy Health Foundation will assist Ascension/Via Christi with costs associated to support a lab interface with the electronic health record and documentation system, a Lucas chest compression system, space lab patient monitors, iStat lab equipment, EKG TC 70 wireless, and a CT power injector, according to the Mercy Foundation press release.

Earlier this year, Mercy Health Foundation donated $300,000 to Community Health Center, who now provides clinical services in the former Mercy Hospital Clinic. That CHC clinic includes a primary care physicians office area, laboratory, x-ray and mammogram services. In addition, it provides convenient care at the location at 1624 S. National Avenue.

Click below for that story:

Mercy Health Foundation Donates $300,000 To Community Health Center


Mercy Health Foundation—Fort Scott, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the following are members: Jared Leek, chair; Chris Petty, vice chair; Bryan Holt, treasurer; Becky Tourtillott, secretary; Alysia Johnston, Mark McCoy, Bill Michaud, Jolynne Mitchell, Pat Neff, Colleen Quick and Darcy Smith, according to the website:

Ascension Via Christi leases approximately 16,000 square feet of space from Mercy, according to the Ascension Via Christi website:

This follows the closure of Mercy Hospital Fort Scott in December 2018.

Under the agreement between Mercy Hospital and Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, the latter now manages emergency and outpatient services at the Fort Scott hospital location.


Mercy Hospital Has 3-Ring Binders To Give Away

Mercy Hospital has free binders!!
Come on by and help yourself
to as many as you need
Mercy Hospital, located at
401 Woodland Hills Blvd. in Fort Scott,
has many 3-ring binders to give away.
The picture above is about 1/3 of what is available.
The binders are located on the lower level/cafeteria area of the building.
Anyone who wants some can come out and help themselves – we will refill the shelves as they empty.
(Most of the schools have been here already to get what they can use.)

Fort Scott Emergency Room Gap In Service: Area ER’s Will Be Utilized

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott signed an agreement with Ascension Via Christi to provide equipment and furnishings for emergency room services.

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.

The Mercy Emergency Room waiting area, January 2019.

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.

Reta Baker. Courtesy photo.

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.


Mercy Hospital: Clinics and Emergency Room Are Open

“The (Mercy Hospital) emergency room will operate as Mercy until Feb. 1,” said Tina Rockhold, whose last day as the communication director for Mercy Hospital Fort Scott was Dec. 28.

“The emergency room is open as usual until Jan. 31,” Reta Baker,  Mercy Hospital Administrator, said. “The clinics are available and open until January 31, then will continue as Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas.”

“Convenient Care is closed Jan. 1 (because of the New Year’s holiday) and will be open Jan 2, with the same hours and phone number,” Baker said.

The phone numbers will remain the same for the clinics, Rockhold said.

Mercy Convenient Care on National Avenue’s phone number is 620-223-8428. Mercy’s Clinic at the hospital is 223-8402. The Mercy Emergency Room can be contacted by phone through the main Mercy phone line at 223-2200.

The clinics scheduled transitions are as follows:

  • Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Linn County, located at 11155 Tucker Road, Pleasanton, Kansas, will transition to CHC/SEK effective January 1, 2019
  • Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Arma, located at 601 E. Washington Street, Arma, Kansas, will transition to CHC/SEK effective January 1, 2019
  • Mercy Clinic Fort Scott, located at 403 Woodland Hills Boulevard, Fort Scott, Kansas, will transition to CHC/SEK effective February 1, 2019
  • Mercy Convenient Care National, located at 1624 S. National Avenue, Fort Scott, Kansas, will transition to CHC/SEK effective February 1, 2019

Patients who plan to transition care the CHC are required to complete a medical release form.

 This will allow past medical records to be uploaded into the CHC/SEK electronic health records so providers can view a patient’s medical history once they are seen as CHC/SEK patients.

Parents and guardians may complete a release of medical records for those patients less than 18 years old. A durable power of attorney designation is necessary to complete a form for anyone older than 18 who is unable to sign.

An online release of medical records is available at

Filling out online takes about 10 minutes or less.

To complete a hard copy form, please contact Jessica Marsh at or call 620-223-8515. Completed forms may be mailed to Jessica Marsh; Mercy Fort Scott Medical Records; 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.; Fort Scott, KS, 66701.