Click below to hear the second in the series of podcasts about the closing of Mercy Hospital in 2018.
Featured in this segment: Reta Baker, David Martin, the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce, Matthew Wells, Roxine Poznich and Krista Postail
A new audio file will be available for Fort Scottians to download to a computer or mobile device about the demise of Mercy Hospital in 2018.
It will be a series, which can be subscribed to, entitled “Where It Hurts.” The first season is “No Mercy.”
The author of the series is Sarah Jane Tribble, a Kaiser Health News Senior Correspondent.
Tribble returned several times to Fort Scott following Mercy’s closure, to interview residents.
She spent more than a year recording the lives of people and how they changed.
“Their stories are full of grit and hope. Along the way, Tribble finds that the notion that every community needs a hospital deserves questioning,” according to the press release.
“The reporting for this project began just weeks before the hospital closed in December 2018 and ended with a final trip in December 2019,” Tribble said. “Throughout, I was reminded of the resilience and strength of people in southeastern Kansas.”
Each episode spends time with people in town, Tribble said in an email interview. “In one, I take the listener to a (Fort Scott) Chamber Coffee, in another, we travel to the cancer treatment center. I truly believe every person in this podcast is worth meeting and spending time with.”
Tribble asked “uncomfortable questions of (Fort Scott) town leaders and the Catholic nuns who once ran Mercy to find out why the hospital, like so many others in rural America, fell upon hard times and ultimately shut down,” according to the release.
Tribble in the first segment on Sept. 29, interviews Pat and Ralph Wheeler, Dave Martin, Roxine Poznich, Krista Postai, and Reta Baker.
Mercy’s Importance To Fort Scott
The loss to the community was not just health care but Mercy Hospital was one of its largest employers and had some of its best-paying jobs according to a Kaiser Family Foundation press release, New Podcast “No Mercy” Features Fort Scott.
“Mercy Hospital served as a mainstay of the town for 132 years and was a constant presence until faltering finances forced its doors to close in December 2018,” according to the press release. “The town felt abandoned.”
To subscribe to the podcast, click below: http://whereithurts.show
The new podcast is a collaboration between Kaiser Health News and St. Louis Public Radio.
When KHN Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal read Tribble’s stories of Fort Scott, she knew it should be a podcast, according to the press release .
St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby said in the press release “The powerful stories from ‘Where It Hurts’ will help listeners, no matter where they are, understand the health care challenges facing our nation. These are stories that bring context and humanity and need to be heard by audiences.”
Series Begins On September 29 With Weekly Episodes
The series employing a narrative storytelling approach, debuts Sept. 29, with episodes to be released weekly through Nov. 10.
They will be available on major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and NPR One.
About the author, Sarah Jane Tribble
Tribble was born and grew up in Parsons, Kansas. Her parents still live on the 10-acre farm she was raised on.
“My love of journalism began when I joined the high school newspaper staff,” she said. ” I went away to college, took a job at the Wichita Eagle, and then followed a journalism career path that took me from coast-to-coast.”
She first heard of Fort Scott Mercy Hospital closing from her mom in one of their frequent conversations, Tribble said.
Doing the background for the story, Tribble was alarmed by the health statistics.
“As someone who grew up in the region, I was initially surprised and alarmed to learn of some of the poor health statistics in the area,” Tribble said in the email interview. “The data shows there are higher rates of diabetes and obesity as well as higher rates of smoking and childhood poverty than other areas of the state. It all adds up to people dying younger.”
‘No Mercy’: What Happens to a Rural Town When Its Only Hospital Shuts Down?
New ‘Where It Hurts’ Podcast From KFF’s Kaiser Health News and St. Louis Public Radio Documents the Economic and Emotional Fallout
Sept. 23, 2020
“No Mercy,” the first season of the new “Where It Hurts” podcast from KFF’s Kaiser Health News (KHN) and St. Louis Public Radio, immerses you in the fallout experienced by one rural town, Fort Scott, Kansas, in the year after its only hospital was shut down by a distant corporate owner.
In losing Mercy Hospital Fort Scott, the community lost not just health care but also one of its largest employers and some of its best paying jobs, sparking tensions, anger and fear for many. Fort Scott’s identity wavered as residents struggled to come to terms with losing the place where their babies were born and kids’ bones were set, and patients with cancer went to get chemo.
Mercy Hospital served as a mainstay of the town for 132 years, and was a constant presence until faltering finances forced its doors to close in December 2018. The town felt abandoned.
KHN senior correspondent Sarah Jane Tribble, who grew up in southeastern Kansas, returns to her roots to ask uncomfortable questions of town leaders and the Catholic nuns who once ran Mercy to find out why the hospital, like so many others in rural America, fell upon hard times and ultimately shut down. Tribble spent more than a year returning again and again to see how the lives of people changed. From a low-income senior who struggles to get to dialysis to the CrossFit-loving town manager and the nurse who became the hospital’s last president, their stories are full of grit and hope. Along the way, Tribble finds that the notion that every community needs a hospital deserves questioning.
The new podcast is a collaboration between KHN and St. Louis Public Radio. Season One: “No Mercy” is the first offering in a new “Where It Hurts” podcast partnership. In future seasons, other storytellers will lead the reporting to highlight overlooked parts of America and show how health system failures can ripple through the social fabric of a community.
Troubles similar to those in Fort Scott are plaguing rural areas all over America. More than 130 rural hospitals have closed over the past decade, including 18 in 2019 alone. These days, the added pressures of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic have forced even more small, rural hospitals to close their doors for good — 15 in the first eight months of 2020.
“When Sarah Jane shared her reporting on the fallout from a rural hospital closing in her home state of Kansas, I said, ‘Wow, this has to be a podcast,’” said KHN Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal. “I’m so thrilled that St. Louis Public Radio has jumped in wholeheartedly with us to make it happen!”
“We’re proud to partner with the team from KHN to shed light on health care disparities,” said St. Louis Public Radio General Manager Tim Eby. “The powerful stories from ‘Where It Hurts’ will help listeners, no matter where they are, understand the health care challenges facing our nation. These are stories that bring context and humanity and need to be heard by audiences.”
“Where It Hurts” is KHN’s third podcast project and the first to employ a narrative storytelling approach. It debuts Sept. 29, with episodes to be released weekly through Nov. 10, and will be available on major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and NPR One. Listen to the “Where It Hurts” trailer and find more information at whereithurts.show. Members of the news media can request an embargoed version of the entire first episode, “It Is What It Is,” by filling out this form.
“Where It Hurts” is St. Louis Public Radio’s seventh podcast currently in production, the most distinguished being “We Live Here” — a two-time international Kaleidoscope Award winner for outstanding coverage of diverse communities and issues.
About KFF and KHN:
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. KHN is an editorially independent program of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) and, along with Policy Analysis and Polling, is one of the three major operating programs of KFF. KFF is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
About St. Louis Public Radio:
St. Louis Public Radio is an award-winning news organization and NPR member station, providing in-depth news, insightful discussion and entertaining programs to a half-million people per month on air and online. With a large, St. Louis-based newsroom and reporters stationed in Jefferson City and Rolla, Missouri, and Belleville, Illinois, the station’s journalists find and tell important stories about communities across the region and help people become deeply informed about the issues that affect their lives. Broadcasting on 90.7 KWMU-FM in St. Louis, 90.3 WQUB in Quincy, Illinois, 88.5 KMST in Rolla and 96.3 K242AN in Lebanon, Missouri, and sharing news and music online at stlpublicradio.org, St. Louis Public Radio is a member-supported service of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.
Submitted by Bill Brittain.
“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.
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
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!
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 merriam-webster.com.
“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 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.
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.
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.
Click below for the donation to the local museum:
Click below for more information:
“To receive gifts and grants of unrestricted funds, and to use the unrestricted funds in a manner that is recommended by the Member (Mercy Hospital); provided that such use and distributions are for the Corporation’s (board of the Mercy foundation) proper purposes and activities that qualify as exempt under Code Section 501(c)(3) and are proper under the provisions of this Article VI;
“To review and approve of the receipt and acceptance of gifts and grants of restricted funds, and if the restricted funds are approved for receipt and acceptance by the Corporation, to use the restricted funds for their intended purposes; provided that such use and distributions are for the Corporation’s proper purposes and activities that qualify as exempt under Code Section 501(c)(3) and are proper under the provisions of this Article VI;
“To fund health-related capital expenditures using the unrestricted funds as recommended by the Member;
“To coordinate the development of new health programs and services as recommended by the Member, which include funding the ongoing operation of such programs;
“To coordinate health-related educational programs as recommended by the Member;
“To coordinate and conduct health-related research as recommended by the Member.”
Click below for the latest edition of National Public Radio’s features on rural health.
This story focuses on two local people who used the cancer center at Mercy Hospital: Karen Endicott-Coyan, Fort Scott and Art Terry, Prescott.
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: