Since the Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department shut down operations in December 2023, there has been behind-the-scenes work with another healthcare entity to provide the needed services.
On January 23, at the Bourbon County Commission meeting, Commissioner Clifton Beth moved to allow Chairman Jim Harris to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bourbon County government and Amberwell Health Incorporated, according to the commission minutes.
Beth read the first paragraph of the MOU which states: The county is committed to ensuring the provision of quality emergency health services which includes an operating emergency room for a one year period to its residents; and Amberwell Health possesses expertise and resources to enhance and optimize the emergency health services within Bourbon County, according to the minutes.
The MOU states there could be a funding agreement that is mutually agreed upon by both parties, and additionally that Amberwell Health has to get the needed licenses, according to the minutes.
Beth stated “This is by no means ensuring an emergency room in any way shape or form, this is an MOU with Amberwell so they can continue to move in the process of trying to get us an emergency room.”
Commissioner Nelson Blythe seconded the motion and all approved it, according to the minutes.
Amberwell Health is a rural healthcare system in northeast Kansas with two complete care locations in Atchison and Hiawatha and five additional clinic locations. Amberwell Health is an innovative healthcare system with a mission to sustain and strengthen rural healthcare organizations, according to its website https://amberwellhealth.org/
To view the Memorandum of Understanding:
Sales Tax To Fund Healthcare Is In the Works
Beth made a motion at the January 23 commission meeting to start working on a ballot for a half-cent sales tax to be put on the ballot in order to operate an emergency room and any additional health services. It would no longer be in effect if an REH is obtained, according to the minutes. Beth said this would give the county approximately $1.5 million that could go towards healthcare. Beth said the commission will let the public decide whether they want it. Blythe seconded the motion and all approved.
Rural emergency hospital (REH) is a new Medicare provider designation established by Congress through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, according to https://www.ncsl.org/health/rural-emergency-hospitals . REHs are meant to reinforce access to outpatient medical services and reduce health disparities in areas that may not be able to sustain a full-service hospital. Starting in January 2023, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and small rural hospitals with no more than 50 beds were allowed to apply for REH designation and receive Medicare payment for providing emergency services.