A community collaboration of Uniontown Ruritan, Girard Hospital, USD 235 School District, Bourbon County Commission, and the City of Uniontown have been working to get a health clinic in the small town in western Bourbon County.
It’s been a long time coming.
Uniontown Mayor Larry Jurgensen had tried to get a medical clinic here several years ago, Mark Warren said. Warren is a Ruritan Governor and member of Uniontown Ruritan.
“Mercy Hospital had no interest at that point,” Warren said.
Even before Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in Dec. 2018, Warren had been thinking about initiating a medical clinic in Uniontown, but when the hospital closed, “I thought this is bad, no hospital, nor a clinic,” he said.
Someone mentioned to Warren that Uniontown resident Holly Koch is the Chief Financial Officer of Girard Hospital and about 1.5 years ago he visited with Koch about the issue. Koch said she would visit with the CEO Ruth Duling and a meeting was set up.
Girard Hospital is 31 miles from Uniontown.
Uniontown is 19 miles from Fort Scott, 25 miles from Iola, both sites of the nearest health care clinics. The clinic would serve western Bourbon County, eastern Allen County, northeastern Neosho County and northern Crawford County rural residents, Warren said.
“They came and we presented some statistics,” Warren said. Since then there have been approximately eight meetings with various Girard Hospital staff and local entities to talk through the idea.
Locally, Warren, Jurgensen, U235 Superintendent Brett Howard, Uniontown Council President Jess Ervin, Uniontown City Clerk who is also U235 Board of Education Member Sally Johnson, Bourbon County Economic Director Jody Hoenor and Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah have been in the collaboration.
Warren, Jurgensen and Jurgensen’s wife, Judy, along with Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah, recently went before the Girard Hospital board to give a history of how the idea for a clinic came about.
The board was favorable to the idea, Warren said.
On Feb. 17, members of the collaborative group met at the proposed site on the campus of Uniontown High School, just south of the football field. Originally, the superintendents office, of late the building has housed the office of the school’s kitchen manager.
“They came, had the blueprints,” Warren said.
The hospital engineering staff will work on the design reconfigurement of the building into a medical clinic, Ruth Duling, Girard Hospital CEO, said.
Next will be getting materials, estimating the costs and raising funds to make the building into a medical clinic, Warren said.
There is no timeline for opening the clinic, Duling said.
Local volunteers will be helping with the labor of the building reconfiguration.
As soon as everything is in place, the hospital will begin the certification process to become a rural health clinic, Duling said.
Staff at the clinic will include a nurse practitioner and one other staff member, serving as both nurse and receptionist, Duling said.
Initially the clinic will be open 2-3 days a week.
“You don’t know until you do it,” if it will be feasible, Duling said. “It will be dependent on people to use the clinic and make it viable.”
One positive for the community:
“There are a lot of passionate people that want to see this come to fruition,” Duling said.