Category Archives: Health Care

Overview of Healthcare Development in Bourbon County 

Last week, Freeman Health System’s  CEO Paula Baker announced that they will begin operating 10 in-patient hospital beds in 2025 at the site of the former Mercy Hospital Fort Scott and will open an emergency department as well.
Mercy closed its doors in December 2018, citing “declining patient numbers and shrinking reimbursement.”    Mercy Hospital Fort Scott to Close
Freeman Health Systems CEO Paula Baker announced last week that Freeman will bring a 10-bed hospital and emergency department to the former Mercy Hospital Fort Scott building.
To view the feature on the Freeman announcement:
At the Bourbon County Commission meeting held on June 17, 2024, Rob Harrington, the Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Director, provided a detailed account of the efforts to bring healthcare services to the community in the last three years.
Rob Harrington. Submitted photo. contacted Harrington to tell the story of all the behind-the-scenes activities that helped produce the announcement of the new hospital and emergency services that are to begin in 2025.
Harrington began by outlining the chronology of events that led to the current healthcare infrastructure since he became the Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Director in 2021.
He said that in 2022, the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) started discussions with Legacy Healthcare to bring their services to Bourbon County.
The Bourbon County Commission transferred the building to them to develop and the building became the responsibility of Legacy Health Foundation in November 2022. View the Bourbon County/ Legacy Health Foundation Agreement
In 2022, the Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department approached the Bourbon County Commission with a proposal…and the Commissioners made the prudent decision to waive the lease rate for the Emergency Room facility, he said.
Following this, “We made the strategic choice to forgo clinic rent, amounting to approximately $23,000 per month, to make sure that the hospital facility could retain and use the helipad.” Harrington explained.
This move underscored the county’s commitment to ensuring rapid medical transportation capabilities for critical cases, he said.
AVC operated the emergency department from 2019 until 2023 ceasing operations citing a ” steady decline in visits and its overall average daily census.” December 20: Ascension Via Christi Closes Emergency Department in Fort Scott
Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas occupied clinic space in the former Mercy building from 2019 until 2023.
CHC then moved to another site to expand services.
Harrington said the hospital building now houses two important healthcare entities. “Thanks to the combined efforts of REDI and the Bourbon County Commission, the hospital building is now at full capacity, accommodating both the Southeast Kansas (SEK) Mental Health Center and the Kansas Renewal Institute (KRI),” he stated.
Emphasizing the positive impact of these developments, Harrington noted, “KRI has created new employment opportunities and introduced a vital service to the state. Currently, they are managing a waiting list of over 100 children in need of care, demonstrating the high demand for their services.”
“In the State of Kansas, and across the nation child mental health is a critical issue and as we see the need for these services grow, we need to continue to support these types of organizations and their support for our children,” he said.
Harrington also shed light on efforts to secure emergency medical services for the county. “We engaged in discussions with multiple organizations in our attempts to establish an ER-only facility,” Harrington explained. “Ultimately, our partnership with Freeman Health System has yielded even better results.”
The 10-bed Freeman Hospital and emergency department is slated to begin operations in April 2025.
Harrington expressed his gratitude to several key stakeholders who played crucial roles in these developments.
He thanked Bourbon County  Commissioners Clifton Beth, and Jim Harris for their continued support and decision-making, the work that Bourbon County REDI staff and board put in, acknowledged the committee that worked tirelessly to place the retail sales tax initiative on this year’s election ballot, the help that KRI and its Chief Operating Officer T.J. Denning had in bringing in Freeman Health, and commended the Bourbon County Emergency Medical staff for their dedication and hard work throughout the process.
Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth. Submitted photo.
Jim Harris, 2nd District Bourbon County Commissioner, and current chair.
T.J. Denning from his LinkedIn page.
Bourbon County EMS is located at 405 Woodland Hills Blvd. Fort Scott. Photo from its Facebook page.
“This overview… illustrates the collaborative and strategic approach taken by Bourbon County to significantly enhance its healthcare infrastructure, ultimately benefiting the entire community,” he said.

Nurse Practitioner Residency applications open


PITTSBURG — Applications for the PSU Nurse Practitioner Residency Program are open. The program is a partnership between Pittsburg State University and the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, providing a guided transition into a practitioner role.

To apply for the 2024-2025 nurse practitioner residency, visit CHC/SEK’s careers page at

During the residency, participants will receive a full salary and benefits while receiving shoulder-to-shoulder training from CHC/SEK’s nurse practitioners and physician preceptors. Qualifications include a Kansas APRN license, Family Nurse Practitioner National Certification from AANP or ANCC, and a primary care NP Graduate from an accredited nursing program.

The 12-month rural NP Residency will begin September 9, 2024. The residents will expand their clinical knowledge and skills to become proficient in primary care services as they develop their own rural patient panel and transition to NP practice.

Opportunities for didactic and clinical experiences in primary care and specialty rotations will be available. Residents will have the required components and the ability to customize their residency.

Upon completion, residents will receive recognition from the PSU Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing and receive a certificate.

To learn more about the residency and qualifications, visit PSU’s Rural Nurse Practitioner Residency webpage:


Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) is a mission-focused, patient-owned, federally qualified health center (FQHC), Kansas not-for-profit corporation, and a recognized 501(c)(3) public charity. CHC/SEK provides quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare for everyone, regardless of income or insurance status. CHC/SEK has 39 registered sites in Kansas and Oklahoma, providing approximately 60 services, including walk-in care, primary care, women’s health, mammography and prenatal care, pediatrics, school-based health services, vaccinations, dental care, behavioral health and addiction treatment, and chronic disease management. To learn more, visit





New 10 Patient Hospital with Emergency Department Will Open in 2025 in Fort Scott

Paula Baker and Renee Denton of Freeman Health Systems visit with Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth at the press conference on June 13.

The former Fort Scott Mercy Hospital will be used once again for hospital operations.

Today, Paula Baker, CEO of Freeman Health System announced that they will be operating 10 in-patient hospital beds at the site and will open an emergency department as well.

Paula Baker speaks to the press and the crowd that showed up to hear an announcement about health care in the county today.

“If treated in the E.R., you will be treated right here (in the hospital section),” she told a crowd that gathered at the former hospital.

There will also be an outpatient lab, radiology, CAT scans available to the public, and an on-site pharmacy.

There will be six bays in the emergency department and 365-day coverage, 24 hours a day.

A licensed physician and emergency-trained staff will be employed,  which will total approximately 70 employees, according to Renee Denton, Chief Operating Officer at Freeman Neosho Hospital, who is helping in this project.

Baker said they have to be licensed by the State of Kansas and that process is long and complex, but they hope to be open by April 1, 2025.

There will be clear separation between Freeman’s hospital bed unit and the Kansas Renewal Institute which also operates in the former Mercy Hospital building, Denton said. Freeman will use the former birthing wing of the hospital.

Baker said they have been working with local city and county entities to make this happen and Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth spoke to the crowd as well as Baker.

She commended Beth and County Commissioner Jim Harris.

“They have worked to get this together and they care,” she said.

Clifton Beth speaks to the crowd at the former Mercy Hospital Emergency Department on June 13.

Beth said the process to reopen a hospital began about five years ago and thanked the sales tax committee that recently spearheaded a May 20234 vote that will produce some money for the project. In addition, he thanked the voters for supporting the tax.

Also helping in the process were present and former county commissioners, Fort Scott City Commissioners,  health agencies, the Bourbon County E.M.S., and Kansas Renewal Institute personnel, Beth said.

“We have been in communication with Kansas on the licensure entities, they have committed to help us expedite the licensure,” Denton said.





FSCC Trustees Will Hold a Special Meeting on June 10

The Fort Scott Community College Board of Trustees will hold a special board meeting on Monday, June 10, 2024 at 3:00 p.m.

It will be held in the Cleaver-Burris-Boileau Ag Building.

Personnel actions (additions, separations, transitions) will be approved, and then board will adjourn to executive session for the purposes of discussing non-elected personnel as it relates to organizational structure.  No action is expected to follow.


Two board members are unable to attend, but a quorum will be present with the four remaining members in attendance.

Euna Kim Blythe Thanks Her Community

Nelson Blythe holds son Isaac, with Euna Kim Blythe. Submitted photo.

Euna Blythe and husband Nelson were driving to Fort Scott on Hwy. 54 near Uniontown on the evening of November 7, 2021, when their car struck a black cow on the road.

“I do not remember anything from the accident and the following few weeks,” Euna said.

She was life-flighted from the  West Bourbon Elementary School yard that evening to the Kansas City area for the severity of her condition.

“I was three months in the hospital and about another three months spent between Meadowbrook rehab and Madonna rehab,” she said.

Today she continues therapy for her injuries, but out of this tragic accident, came something really good: she and Nelson had their first child, a son named Isaac in January 2024.

To this couple, the birth was a miracle because they had been trying to conceive for seven years.

Here is a letter to the community from Euna.

“I would like to show gratitude to the many people who helped me during (the) terrible car accident I had on November 7, 2021,” she said. “First of all, members of Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office, that included Detectives Alvin Metcalf and Kevin Davidson, Deputies Trey Sharp, Shawn Pritchett, Andrew Penland, Zach Ross, and Patrick Brazeal, Undersheriff Ben Cole and Sheriff Bill Martin.”

“Deputy Ross and Brazeal responded to my accident and acted with great compassion and professionalism,” she said.

“Detective Metcalf was in Kansas City at the time of the accident, and went straight to KU Med Center as soon as he heard, and helped lead my family where they needed to go. Detective Davidson, Deputy Sharp, Pritchett and Penland rushed to the helicopter landing zone and stayed with my husband, Nelson …, as I was being cared for by Bourbon County EMS. I have been told that EMS staff Trace Evans and Robert Leisure transported me in the ambulance from the scene of the accident to the landing zone. Deputy Shawn Pritchett drove my husband and the other deputies to KU Med. Linn County Deputies met them at the county line and escorted them to Miami County. Miami County Deputies escorted them to Johnson County.”

“At the hospital, Nelson was met by Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin and Undersheriff Ben Cole, as well as the Sheriff of Linn County, Kevin Friend. Also present were Nelson’s parents and our Pastor, Tony Felich.”

“Throughout the weeks following, Nelson’s law enforcement brothers hardly left his side and for that I am forever grateful. I had many other visitors during the days I was in a coma and the days following, including my dear Jiu-Jitsu coach Brett Holder who encouraged me to never give up.”

“There are so many other people who came to visit me and provided comfort to my distressed family. I cannot name them all, but please know that I am so grateful to all of you.”

“I want to thank Fort Scott Munitions and the Kraft family for reserving hotel rooms near the hospital so my family could have a place to stay. I would also like to thank Young Yu, for lending a helping hand without hesitation.”

” I want to thank all of the Linn County Sheriff’s Deputies for donating all of their sick time so that Nelson could stay with me at the hospital. I would specifically like to thank Sgt. Tanner Ogden, who organized a fundraiser in Linn County.”

“I want to sincerely thank the people in Bourbon County and people from all over, who donated a substantial amount of money to help alleviate my family’s financial needs. Without that fundraiser, it would have been impossible for me to be admitted to Madonna Rehab, where I received much-needed care. Trey Sharp was the organizer.”

“Next, Doctors and nurses of KU Medical Center(MD Sarah Eickmeyer, MD Ifijie E Ohiorhernuan, PhD Monica F Kurylo, Taylor L, MD Alexandra N Arickx, MD Kyle R Brown, DO Erich M Wessel, CRNA Dylan C McDaniel, MD Robin R Walters, MD Sean C. Liebscher, MD Miles Sanderson, MD Kimberlee D Reets, APRN-NP Kathryn  M Moore, APRN-NP Rachael A Domino, MD Jourdaen Sanchez, MD Stephen R Eaton, MD Thomas J Whittaker, MD Jason S Frederick, MD Anand Dharia, MD Adip Bhargav) Doctors, Nurses and therapists from Hanger CLINIC, Meadowbrook Rehab and Madonna Rehab and Bryan West Hospital in Lincoln Nebraska. They were the most helpful staff and workers.

” I want to thank both my American and  South Korean family,  Nelson’s family was tearful and rejoiced when I was finally able to wake up and my family in South Korea did the same. They managed to fly over here right after they heard about the accident and stayed for two weeks. Also, to Galen and Jeffie Mussman, thank you for your kindness shown to my family.”

” I want to thank my husband, Nelson Blythe. Nelson never gave up on me even when my recovery seemed impossible. Nelson kept fighting through the horrible abyss even when told by doctors that I would most likely never wake up.”

“Nelson made feeble attempts to clean and do chores while I was hospitalized, and managed to keep the cats alive, and the house from burning down.”

“I want to thank Else Moss and Jennifer Ballou, Krista Ogden, and my Aunt, Terry Blythe, for coming to Nelson’s rescue by assisting with house chores and taking care of me while Nelson was at work.”

“This accident has really shown me the importance of community, family and friends. This community showed me staggering kindness and care. I am humbled by the fierce loyalty and commitment displayed by all of you.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank every one of you.”

“I pray that the Almighty God, the Father of our Savior Jesus Christ, continues to show his love, mercy and peace to me, my family and to all of us in this community. Amen.”

Bourbon County Health Care Sales Tax Is Approved By A Wide Majority, REH Discussion Beginning In Washington D.C.

Voting in the Bourbon County Courthouse in 2018.

The unofficial results of the May 14 election are in.

Bourbon County residents voted 1611 to 496 in favor of a one-quarter cent retail sales tax. Nine ballots were blank and are listed as “undervotes”,” Bourbon County Clerk Jennifer Hawkins said. “We have a total of 12,418 registered voters which equals a turnout of 17.03% which is slightly less than the city/school election last November which had a turnout of 19.35%.”

The tax becomes effective October 1, 2024, and continues for five years and will used for the establishment and operation of an Emergency Department in Bourbon County.

When the tax terminates in five years, the remaining tax funds will be used for Emergency Medical Services and/or property tax reduction as determined by the Bourbon County Commissions.


The emergency room at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd.

Rural Emergency Hospital Discussion Starts In Washington

In a related category, the U.S. Senate had legislation introduced recently that starts further federal discussion of rural emergency hospitals.

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in December 2018, citing declining patient numbers. Ascension Via Christi then took over operations of  Mercy’s Emergency Room in 2019 and closed in December 2023.

To view prior stories:

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott to Close

Ascension Via Christi to close Emergency Department in Fort Scott on Dec. 20

That emergency room, at 401 Woodland Hills, Fort Scott, is currently closed.

Today U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)  announced they have introduced legislation to expand access to federal resources for rural hospitals through the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) Medicare designation, according to a Moran press release


“The Rural Emergency Hospital Improvement Act would increase opportunities for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) and rural hospitals to convert to an REH and make technical improvements to the designation. These changes would help make the conversion to an REH more appealing by giving rural hospitals facing closure access to critical resources from the federal government to remain open.


“Access to emergency health care saves lives and helps rural communities prosper,” said Sen. Moran. “Too many rural hospitals in Kansas and across the country are struggling to keep their doors open, and this legislation offers those hospitals a lifeline. The Rural Emergency Hospital designation has already helped save numerous rural hospitals, and expanding access to this successful program is a common-sense way to make certain more hospitals stay open.”

“Rural hospitals provide health care in areas where it isn’t otherwise easy to access, so when their doors close, communities are left with almost no options, and that’s dangerous. If you’re dealing with a medical emergency or you just went into labor, the last thing on your mind should be whether your local hospital is still open,” said Senator Smith. “This bill is about public safety. It will make sure that if a hospital is in truly dire straits, they can remain open for emergency care – including obstetric care.”


“Created as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, REH is a new Medicare provider designation that offers certain rural hospitals the opportunity to convert and continue operating with limited services rather than closing. The provisions in the REH Improvement Act are the result of numerous conversations Sen. Moran held with rural health care providers and CEOs of hospitals that are eligible for the REH designation.”

According to the Moran press release:

“The Rural Emergency Hospital Improvement Act would:

  • Allow previously closed rural hospitals to re-open and apply for the Rural Emergency Hospital designation if they can demonstrate they met all eligibility requirements between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 27, 2020.
  • Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a waiver program for facilities operating similarly to an REH in order to convert to an REH.
  • Allow REH facilities to maintain or create a unit for inpatient psychiatric care, obstetric care and allow for limited inpatient rehabilitation services.
  • Require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide additional funding for laboratory services.
  • Clarify that REH facilities are eligible for Small Rural Hospital Improvement grants.
  • Direct the Secretary of HHS to allow an REH to be eligible as a National Health Service Corp site.
  • Authorize REH facilities to transfer patients from acute care to a Skilled Nursing Facility without leaving the hospital, in accordance with the Social Security Act.
  • Allow an REH facility to revert back to a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) to regain necessary provider status, only if the facility was designated a necessary provider prior to converting to REH.”


Via Christi Cybersecurity Event Update

Via Christi Cybersecurity Event Update

National Update

Ascension previously reported that it experienced a ransomware attack that has caused disruptions to patient care in its network. Our priority remains on providing safe patient care. Ascension, with the support of leading cybersecurity experts, worked around the clock over the weekend to respond to the ransomware incident affecting our systems. We are focused on restoring systems safely. We are making progress, however, it will take time to return to normal operations. As systems and services come back online, we will share those updates so that our patients and communities can plan accordingly. We have established a dedicated website to share any updates we have across our system. We will be expanding the site this week to provide updates related to healthcare services as they relate to specific regions.

We encourage anyone seeking information surrounding the incident or with questions about the operational status of Ascension facilities to visit this page for the latest updates –

Via Christi Update

All Ascension Via Christi hospitals, physician offices, and care sites across Kansas remain open and operational. Despite the challenges posed by the recent ransomware incident, patient safety continues to be our utmost priority. Our dedicated doctors, nurses, and care teams are demonstrating incredible thoughtfulness and resilience as we use manual and paper based systems during the ongoing disruption to normal systems.

We thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unexpected situation. Rest assured, our commitment to the health and safety of our community remains our highest priority.


Can I go to my doctor’s appointment?

Ascension Via Christi Medical Partners doctor’s offices and care sites are operating with normal business hours, and all scheduled appointments are proceeding as planned.

Due to the transition to manual systems for patient documentation, patients may encounter longer than usual wait times and some delays. To help expedite processes, patients should bring notes on symptoms and a list of current medications, including prescription numbers or bottles. In the event that appointments need to be rescheduled, an Ascension associate will contact patients directly.

Can I get my prescription filled?

Ascension Rx retail pharmacies in Kansas cannot fill your prescription at this time. If a prescription was filled prior to May 8, 2024, and is awaiting pickup, that is available for the patient. If a patient needs a refill, they need to contact their prescriber and get a new prescription sent to a pharmacy outside of Ascension Rx.


Is Via Christi Immediate Care on Murdock open?

At this time, the Via Christi Immediate Care on Murdock is fully operating. Due to the transition to manual systems for patient documentation and care at certain centers, patients may encounter longer than usual wait times and some delays.


Are Ascension’s emergency rooms open?

All Via Christi emergency rooms remain open. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please dial 911, and local emergency services will transport you to the most appropriate hospital emergency room.

Can I still have my surgery?

Patients with upcoming scheduled elective surgeries should plan to arrive as planned unless otherwise notified. Should any rescheduling be necessary, a member of our care team will contact you directly.

Due to the transition to manual systems for patient documentation, patients may encounter longer than usual wait times and some delays. To help expedite processes, patients should bring notes on symptoms and a list of current medications, including prescription numbers or bottles.

Will I be able to get my diagnostic imaging, other tests, and treatments?

Imaging, testing, and treatment are being offered at this time. Patients may experience delays, we are grateful for your patience. Should any rescheduling be necessary, a member of our care team will contact you directly.

Commitment to Quality Care:
Our care teams are well versed on dynamic situations and are appropriately trained to maintain high quality care during downtime. Our leadership, physicians, care teams, and associates are working tirelessly to ensure patient care continues with minimal to no interruption. We appreciate our community’s patience and understanding.



About Via Christi

In Kansas, Via Christi operates seven hospitals and 134 other sites of care and employs more than 6,400 associates. In FY2023, Via Christi provided more than $65 million in community benefit programs. In FY2023, Via Christi provided $2.3 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Via Christi includes more than 150,000 associates and 40,000 aligned providers. Via Christ is sponsored by Ascension, a national health system that operates more than 2,600 sites of care – including 139 hospitals and more than 40 senior living facilities – in 19 states. Serving Kansas for more than 135 years, Via Christi is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Visit


Severe Weather Is Coming This Evening: Be Prepared

There is a possibility of severe weather this evening and the community should be aware and planning in case of emergency.

“Everyone needs to keep informed about the possible severe weather either by TV, phone, or internet,” Bourbon County Emergency  Management Director Brian Allen said.  “There are storm shelters in Bronson, Uniontown, Mapleton, and Garland.  They are opened by someone in their community.  If a town has storm sirens, they are also responsible for activating them.”

” Fort Scott Dispatch only has control of the sirens in Fort Scott,”  he said.

In Fort Scott there are few public options for getting in a basement during severe weather, but Grace Baptist Church,  the former Mercy Hospital building and the Presbyterian Church will be opening a door to the public, if the tornado sirens sound.

Grace Baptist Church is at the corner of Margrave and 6th Street. The front doors will be open should the tornado sirens sound.

Brandi Rhoades, at the Grace Baptist Church on 502 S. Margrave Street, said the front door of the church will be unlocked if the sirens go off in the city.

Matthew Wells, Legacy Healthcare Foundation Director of Plant Operations, said the northwest door of the former Mercy Hospital building at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. will be open in case the siren goes off in Fort  Scott. This was the employee entrance.


The Presbyterian Church basement at 308 S. Crawford will be open should the sirens sound, said Cindy Goebel, church secretary.


First Presbyterian Church. 308 S. Crawford.




May 14 Sales Tax For an ER Is Crucial to Bourbon County, Citizens Group Says


The emergency room operations at the former Mercy Hospital sit vacant.
The Citizens for an ER group “do not see a way forward to have a provider reestablish an emergency room in Bourbon County,” said Craig Campbell, a member of the citizens’ group, ” if the May 14 vote for a sales tax is not approved.
“The Citizens for an E.R. committee appreciate the concerns, the insightful questions, and the support of the Uniontown and the Fort Scott town hall attendees,” Randy Nichols, another member,  said.  “Please vote to reopen our E.R.   Early voting starts May 6th at the courthouse.  Voting on May 14th will be at your usual polling location.”
Members of the group are Jamie Armstrong, Campbell, Lynda Foster, Charles Gentry, Mark McCoy, Nichols, and Douglas Ropp.
The group has held two public input meetings, one on April 11 in Fort Scott and one in Uniontown on April 24, to help tell the benefits of reestablishing an ER and get questions from the community.
To view the prior story on the first citizen’s input meeting:
The attendees of the town hall meeting in Uniontown on Wednesday had approximately 15-20 people.


“We opened the meeting stressing the importance of an emergency department to the citizens of Bourbon County,” Campbell said.

At the Uniontown meeting, there were new questions asked: “Concerns expressed at the meeting involved what the money could be spent for, why we need an ER. , and where would it be located,” Nichols said


Randy Nichols said “The ballot language is specific, stating for the five-year tax duration, (he quoted from the ballot), “Said tax shall be used as needed for establishment and operation of an emergency department in Bourbon County.”  If an E.R. is not established the ballot states, “upon termination, remaining tax funds shall be used for EMS and /or property tax reduction as determined by the Bourbon County Commissioners.”

“In other words, the money can only be spent on an E.R,” Nichols said.  “It cannot be used on other projects and would be returned to the community if we do not get an E.R.  A citizens committee has been appointed by the Commission to review and periodically report to the public that the money is being spent as per the ballot language.”

The needs for an ER are many, Campbell said.

“There is a need to protect those with failing health, workers in hazardous occupations, and children playing contact sports, being able to retain and recruit businesses in Bourbon County,”  he said.

“It allows our citizens quicker access to doctors, nurses, lab and radiology techs and medications that can assess and treat the health issues being presented,” Campbell said. ” Our Emergency Medical Service is top-notch!  The Rural Emergency Health mentioned earlier was written for places like Bourbon County.  It stresses 1) solid primary care, 2) great EMS, and 3) an emergency department.  We had these in place until last December 20th.  This tax question when passed would restore our three-pronged strategy to effective healthcare in Bourbon County.”

The tax is small per person.

“We reminded folks that the 0.25% sales tax would add 25 cents to the cost of a $100 purchase at the store, “Campbell said. ” And that the tax has a five-year hard stop on it.”
 “The tax can only be used to support reopening our ER and its ongoing operation,” he said. “The next step would be to get Congress to re-date the effective date of the Rural Emergency Hospital Act to December of 2015 so that hospitals such as Fort Scott’s would be eligible to receive funding for the emergency hospital.”
Graphic provided by the Citizens For an ER.
“It will operate in its previous area within the former hospital at 401 Woodland Hills Boulevard,” Campbell said.  “Medical equipment remains there as the result of a donation by Ascension (Via Christi, which closed operations at that site in December 2023).
“The current site is available and ready as it is fully equipped with lab, x-ray, CT scanner and ultrasound,” Nichols said. “These were gifted to the county by Ascension Via Christi -Pittsburg saving on the cost of reopening.   The building also has room for expansion to include observation beds and outpatient services (for example out patient surgery)  if Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation can be obtained in the future.”
“Rural Emergency Hospital is a federally funded designation supporting an E.R., observation beds, and out-patient services,” Nichols said.  “This is a program not yet available to Bourbon County but having an E.R. is the first step to achieve the expanded services of REH.  Having REH would relieve the need for community tax support.”

“The attendees praised the EMS service but also supported the need for an E.R.,” Nichols said.  “Having an E.R. is a needed part of our health care delivery system. An emergency room and EMS are mutually beneficial services.  Having an E.R. improves our overall community health outcomes.  “(We) recognize most E.R. visits are by walk-in patients so without an E.R. it’s likely there will be more ambulance calls and all runs will be out of the county.    Statistically, a majority of those people will not require hospitalization and would be better/ more efficiently served locally.   An E.R. was also recognized to have county-wide economic development and long-term property tax benefits.”


The Vote Here sign sits in front of the north wing of the Bourbon County Courthouse, 210 S. Nationa. There will be a sales tax question on the ballot on May 14, 2024.

Tetanus Shots Offered to Individuals Affected by Flooding

The Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department is located between 6th and Lowman Streets and 6th and Horton Streets.


SEK Multi-County Health Department is offering free tetanus shots for individuals affected by the recent flooding.  Tetanus shots will be available to impacted residents as well as first responders, volunteers, or any others who have been or will be assisting with recovery and cleanup efforts.

Free tetanus shots will be available by appointment at the SEK Multi-County Health Department in Iola, Garnett, and Fort Scott while flood response continues.

Addresses of these three locations are as follows:

Allen County (Iola): 411 N. Washington Ave. Iola, KS 66749

Anderson (Garnett): 301 S. Vine, Garnett, KS 66032

Bourbon County (Fort Scott): 524 S. Lowman, Fort Scott, KS 66701

Tetanus vaccines are recommended for people of all ages.  Adults need a tetanus booster shot every 10 years, but health care providers may recommend a booster sooner due to an injury or other health concerns.

Tetanus bacteria are everywhere in the environment, including soil, dust, and manure. Tetanus is most commonly caused by the bacteria getting into the body through broken skin, usually through injuries from dirty objects. During evacuation and flood cleanup, residents affected by flooding, emergency responders, cleanup workers, or volunteers may be at increased risk for these injuries. For this reason, these people should be sure that they are up to date with tetanus vaccination. This can be done by talking with your health care provider or reviewing your vaccination record.

Tetanus is commonly known as “lockjaw,” and is a serious disease that affects the nervous system and causes painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can cause severe breathing problems and in serious cases, lead to death. There is no cure for tetanus.

Please call the SEK Multi-County Health Department for more information at:

Allen County: (620)365-2191

Anderson County: (785)448-6559

Bourbon County: (620)223-4464

Woodson County: (620)625-2484

Dangerous Situation, Stay Home, Stay Safe: FS City Manager

This is the east entrance to the lake, below the spillway. The road has broken out and there’s a lot of traffic, submitted by Jason Tourtillott.

Bourbon County experienced flooding rain on Saturday evening, 10 Inches, said Brad Matkin.

This is the view  towards Wall Street from Hwy.. 69 bypass, in front of Fort Scott Munitions.

In a Facebook post on the city’s page, he said the north end of town is flooded. He contacted and asked to make this known.

“It’s a bad situation,” he said. “Water rescues are going on,” he said.

Please don’t be out unless absolutely necessary, Matkin said.

Third Street,  at the Hwy. 69 bypass,  by the railway, is flooded.

The safety of the residents and the public safety personnel is of utmost importance. Sightseeing is not encouraged.


The Marmaton River, which is located on  North National Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, is expected to crest at 45 feet, possible tomorrow.

“That’s one of the highest in history,”  he said.

Looking south on NATIONAL Avenue towards the bridge over the Marmaton River.

In addition, the forecast is for more rain this week.

Brad Matkin. Submitted photo.



Citizens For The ER Will Hold Town Hall Meetings in Fort Scott and Uniontown This Month


The Vote Here sign sits in front of the north wing of the Bourbon County Courthouse, 210 S. National in an earlier election.  A sales tax question will be on the ballot on May 14, 2024. for voters to decide the issue.

A citizen group working independently of the county commission plans a few community town hall meetings to inform people of the upcoming sales tax question on the May 14 ballot.

The group, Citizens For The ER, is presenting two town hall meetings regarding the one-quarter cent Bourbon County sales tax dedicated to re-opening the local emergency room.

The meeting aims to address questions and concerns about the sales tax.
Meetings are scheduled for:
Fort Scott on Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Scott Community College Ellis Center.
Uniontown on Wednesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Meeting Room.
“This is an opportunity to learn how your vote will impact the well-being of our county,” said Charles Gentry, a member of the group.


“Our purpose is to support obtaining an emergency room (in the county) by getting the ¼ cent retail sales tax passed,” said Randy Nichols, another member.  “The members are myself, Jamie Armstrong, Craig Campbell, Lynda Foster, Charles Gentry, Mark McCoy, and Doug Ropp.”

McCoy will be the moderator of the meetings.

“We are taking on the issue because we all feel strongly the need to have an ER for both community health and economic well-being,” Nichols said.