Category Archives: Mercy Hospital

View the Bourbon County/ Legacy Health Foundation Agreement

The Bourbon County Commission room, at the courthouse.

The Bourbon Country Commission transferred ownership of the former Mercy Hospital Building at 401 Woodland Hills on November 17, 2022 to Legacy Health Foundation.

 

Editors note

The agreement document was originally sent by the Bourbon County Clerk  to fortscott.biz for publication on Nov. 17 but an email from the clerk  said her office was just notified that there was an error in the document and was asked to pull the document off of the Bourbon County site.  Fortscott.biz also pulled the document out of the story until the corrected document was available.

 

 

Here is the corrected agreement document between the county and Legacy Health Foundation.

Donation-Agreement-Corrected

 

 

“We have been in negotiations with them for six months,” Commissioner Clifton Beth said. “We transferred the building to them to develop. The building is the responsibility of Legacy Health Foundation as of today.”

In addition, the commission gave Legacy Health Foundation a combined $2 million dollars, he said. Mercy Hospital gave  the commission the building and $600,000 after the hospital closed in December 2018.

To view a prior press release:

Bourbon County Takes Ownership of Former Mercy Hospital Building

The rest of the money given the Legacy Health Foundation  is from American Rescue Plan Act funds.

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1319

This bill provided additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.

Jennifer Massey from her Linkedin profile.

Jennifer Massey is the local contact for Legacy Health. On her Linkedin profile is stated that she is a self-employed hospital operations executive, since July 2022.https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-massey-msn-rn-70a3b0147/

Her skills are listed at healthcare consulting, healthcare improvement, healthcare management and process improvement.

She works for Legacy Health Foundation full-time now, she said in an interview, and her title is Chief Clinical Operations Officer.

“The Legacy Health Foundation was created to bring health care back to Bourbon County,” Massey said.

She has an office at the former Mercy Hospital building and lives in St. Charles, Missouri, she said.

Ascension Via Christi will stay in place as the emergency department, she said.

“Members of the community will be part of the foundation,” Massey said. “We will be having community meetings, and more info will be forthcoming.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHC Move Delayed Until February 2023

Krista Postai. Submitted.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas at Fort Scott is pushing forward the opening date for their new facility.

They moved into the former Fort Scott Mercy Hospital in February 2019 and will move into the former Price Chopper building in February 2023 as plans now stand.

The Price Chopper building, 2322 S. Main.

“Due to delays in receiving some materials, including most of the doors and pieces of the heating/cooling system, and some unanticipated design changes, it now appears that CHC/SEK’s opening of our new facility in the former Price Chopper building will be delayed until sometime to February 2023,” CEO Krista Postai said.

“We will be combining both the main clinic and Walk-In Care Clinic into the same facility along with our pharmacy, complete with drive-through window,” she said. “We are especially excited about the installation of a new CT scanner in this facility along with 3-D mammography, conventional x-ray, ultrasound and bone density testing equipment making it one of the best-equipped health centers in the country.”

“Once fully relocated, we do expect to sell our Walk-In Care building, which is being listed with a local realtor,” Postai said. “Proceeds from the sale of this building will be directed toward the cost of renovating the new clinic.”

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in December 2018.

To view information on the transition of Mercy Clinics to CHC view:

CHC/SEK Finalizes Plans for Transition of Mercy Clinics

New Staff

Meanwhile new additions are being added to the CHC staff.

“Recruitment for an additional psychiatric provider in Ft. Scott is also underway, with plans to also add therapy and addiction treatment services once the new clinic opens,” she said.

“We were pleased to welcome Dr. Frank Miller, a well-known and respected chiropractor, to CHC/SEK,” she said.

Dr. Miller was owner of Back to Health Chiropractic in Ft. Scott and in making the move, Dr Miller said, “With the collaboration of other medical disciplines, I believe I will be able to serve my patients with a higher quality of care. The mission of CHC/SEK is right in line with my own and I also believe that I will be able to serve a larger segment of the community than I could in private practice.”

“Toward that end, our new facility will have an expanded area for Wellness Services including Dr. Miller’s practice,” Postai said. “He is now accepting appointments at our Main Clinic; former patients are most welcome.”

“Also joining us in Ft. Scott in our Walk-In clinic is APRN Michael McNellis,” she said. “Originally from Overland Park she received her BSN from MidAmerica Nazarene University and her MSN from Rockhurst University.”

 

Transportation Services

“Effective November 1, CHC/SEK assumed responsibility for Ascension/Via Christi’s Care Van service,” Postai said. “We’re spending the first few weeks getting familiar with their vehicles and new scheduling software we acquired and will be expanding the service – which is transitioning to state-supported public transportation. This means it will take riders other places besides medical facilities. Starting in Crawford County, it will be available in both Bourbon and Cherokee counties as soon as our additional vehicles become available. We will publicize its availability through the media including our Facebook page once we expand.”

New Clinic In Garnett

Also, November 1, CHC opened a new clinic in Garnett, Kansas. Dr. Ross Kimball MD, former owner of Pheasant Ridge Family Medicine in Garnett, transitioned his practice over to CHC/SEK full-time this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noble Health: History of Failed Health Care For Patients

Sara Jane Tribble, a journalist from Kaiser Health News, visited Fort Scott following the closure of Mercy Hospital and wrote a comprehensive story on the impact to the community.

She sent this story to fortscott.biz, just completed, on Noble Health that is a contender corporation for reopening a hospital in Fort Scott, at the former Mercy site.

Buy and Bust: When Private Equity Comes for Rural Hospitals

MEXICO, Mo. — When the new corporate owners of two rural hospitals suddenly announced they would stop admitting patients one Friday in March, Kayla Schudel, a nurse, stood resolute in the nearly empty lobby of Audrain Community Hospital: “You’ll be seen; the ER is open.”

The hospital — with 40 beds and five clinics — typically saw 24 to 50 emergency room cases a day, treating patients from the surrounding 1,000-plus acre farms and tiny no-stoplight towns, she said. She wouldn’t abandon them.

A week later Noble Health had the final word: It locked the doors.

Noble, a three-year-old startup that acquired Audrain and nearby Callaway Community Hospital, offered explanations on social media, including “a technology issue” and a need to “restructure their operations” to keep the hospitals financially viable.

The company should have had plentiful resources to keep them afloat: Noble was launched in late 2019 by Nueterra Capital, a venture capital and private equity firm that has raised millions of dollars to back dozens of health care companies, according to Nueterra’s portfolio and federal filings.

What’s more, in addition to Medicare and Medicaid funds, Noble had received nearly $20 million in federal covid relief money in the 18 months before it closed the hospitals — funds whose use is still not fully accounted for.

Private equity investors, with their focus on buying cheap and reaping quick returns, are moving voraciously into the U.S. health care system; investments increased twentyfold from 2000 to 2018, and have only accelerated since. Financially distressed rural hospitals like Audrain are targets, putting vulnerable communities at the mercy of firms whose North Star is profit, rather than patient health. A recent report found that 441, more than 20%, were at risk of closing or losing services.

The saga that followed Noble into these towns may well serve as a warning flare from the rolling wheat and corn fields between Kansas City and St. Louis.

Noble acquired the hospitals after charming local leaders desperate to save beloved local institutions. And federal regulators did nothing to block or thoroughly vet the acquisition, despite red flags.

Noble’s directors had little health care experience. The one who did was Donald R. Peterson, whose previous foray into the space, an infusion company, ended with charges of Medicare fraud. Just months later, he became one of two directors of Noble, along with Nueterra’s chairman, Daniel R. Tasset, according to a state filing.

In an emailed response to questions from KHN, Peterson said the startup was meant to do good: “We created Noble to save a rural hospital that was about to close.” Tasset could not be reached for comment.

Audrain had struggled before Noble came calling, said Dr. Joe Corrado, a longtime surgeon at the hospital: On an average day in 2019, 40% of beds were empty, as more treatments moved to the outpatient setting and some patients drove an hour to larger hospitals for specialty care.

Things grew worse rather than better under the new private equity owners, according to Corrado as well as state and federal documents, gained through months of public records requests, and dozens of interviews with community leaders, health officials, and residents.

Once Noble owned Callaway and Audrain, the hospitals stopped paying their bills, according to lawsuits filed by contract nurses, security guards, and others. Inspection reports from the state workers coordinating with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were alarming, listing 135 pages of deficiencies that put patients “at risk for their health and safety.”

Corrado saw his hospital being whittled away. Supplies for surgery disappeared, crucial medicines went unstocked, paychecks never came, he said. Just days before Noble suspended operations, he told management: “We don’t have the ability to do the things we need to take care of patients.”

When state health department surveyors arrived at the Callaway hospital in late summer 2021, only three patients remained, all in the geriatric psychiatry unit.

Inspectors reported they witnessed a suicidal 77-year-old stab her own leg with an ink pen, that an 85-year-old missed his medicine over the weekend because a pharmacist was unavailable, and that nurses waited five minutes to provide oxygen after surgery because the machine malfunctioned.

Ambar La Forgia, a Columbia University assistant professor who studies private equity in health care, said the business model, in general, is “all about creating short-term returns for shareholders.” The emphasis on profit, she said, is “not necessarily great for the patient.”

That, La Forgia said, raises hard questions for rural America: “Is a bad hospital better than no hospital?” And how should federal regulators who approve hospital purchases and monitor their performance thread that needle?

Hospitals Hollowed Out of Drugs, Supplies, and Salaries

Audrain was once a 247-bed regional destination for care, with more than 4,300 admissions in 1992, according to a county bond report. Internal medicine doctors, orthopedic surgeons, and pulmonologists competed to admit the most patients.

By 2019 it was a shadow of that former self. Yet patients like Dee Tate, diagnosed with cancer in 2020, relied on it. She got blood tests, scans, port placement, and chemotherapy to put her into remission — all at Audrain.

So she was shocked when her oncologist, Dr. Shahid Waheed, told Tate he couldn’t perform her scheduled infusion this January.

“If I don’t take this treatment, the likeliness of this kind of cancer coming back goes way, way up,” she said.

The medication, Rituxan, was not in short supply nationally. Noble could not stock it because the hospital purchasing department did not have the money for it, according to a former hospital employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. Ultimately, the person said, the staff bought it directly from the supplier.

Tate’s infusion was five weeks late. “It came from Indiana,” she recalled. Tate, along with about 500 other patients, now must travel at least 40 miles for cancer care.

In the operating suite, Corrado said he could never be sure supplies like anesthesia medicines, bandages, and catheters would be available for surgeries, from mastectomies to emergency appendectomies.

Management determined who would be paid on a week-by-week basis, he said: “On one Friday, they would pay the employees, and they couldn’t buy anything else. And another week they would be able to maybe buy supplies.”

Money troubles were not new to the hospitals. Despite federal subsidies, rural hospitals often struggle because their patients tend to be on Medicare or Medicaid or have no insurance, providing less revenue than commercial insurance.

The year before Noble bought Audrain, the hospital reported an $18 million loss for patient services on $44 million in patient revenue. The Callaway hospital had eked out a $170,000 profit from patient care while still owned and operated by Nueterra.

The next year, under Noble’s management, Callaway reported a nearly $6 million loss on patient services, its 2020 Medicare cost report showed. On paper, financial filings show, it had spent 43% more than the year before.

But much of the money was not spent on delivering health care, said Ge Bai, a professor of accounting at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, who reviewed Callaway’s most recent Medicare cost reports for KHN. She noted that the hospital received millions in covid relief that it reported as miscellaneous income.

The hospital’s spending on laboratory, medical supplies, contract nursing, and care all increased, as is expected in a pandemic, Bai said. But she questioned other line-item cost increases.

For example, spending on the non-salaried employee benefits climbed 273%, to $1.4 million. Callaway’s 18-bed hospital nearly doubled its spending on administration, adding $1.1 million in fees paid to Nueterra subsidiaries NueHealth and Noble in 2020. The hospital also paid Noble a $38,000 lease in 2020, a statement filed with Callaway County showed.

“These dramatic increases raise a red flag,” Bai said. “To whom did the money go?”

Noble executives repeatedly declined requests for comment or interviews to clarify such questions. In late March, Noble spokesperson Nancy Mays said they did not have time to answer questions because they were “talking to potential buyers and figuring out how to best serve employees right now.”

A Sales Pitch Heavy on Charm

Audrain County officials were easy prey for investors. Noble was the only bidder for the failing hospital, said Lou Leonatti, the longtime local attorney, and many in Mexico, a town of 11,000 and the county seat, “believed we were saved.”

Dana Keller, the head of Mexico’s Chamber of Commerce who felt a hospital was essential to keeping business in town, said she set up meetings so Noble’s executives could “talk about their philosophy for rural health care.”

Leaders who called themselves “Progress Mexico” tried to evaluate the startup. “At the time we looked at it, Nueterra had an ownership interest, Don Peterson had an ownership interest, Drew Solomon, and Tom Carter,” Leonatti said.

But there was much they didn’t know or overlooked. None of Noble’s three founding owners had run a hospital or navigated its regulatory demands. Only Peterson — a serial entrepreneur who spent decades investing in workstation and information technology businesses — had worked briefly in health care, and that ended badly.

In 2012, he created IVXpress, now called IVX Health, with infusion centers in 10 states. Peterson left IVX in 2018 after a whistleblower accused him of altering claims, faking drug purchases, and paying a doctor kickbacks. Peterson settled the resulting Medicare fraud charges with the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General without admitting wrongdoing.

Such OIG settlements are “in essence the federal government saying that we don’t trust you,” said Robert Salcido, an attorney who specializes in health care fraud.

Jeff Morris, Peterson’s attorney, said in a letter to KHN: Peterson’s five-year voluntary “exclusion applies to health care programs only, this precludes him from making any claim to funds allocated by federal health care programs for services — including administrative and management services — ordered, prescribed or furnished by Mr. Peterson.”

Morris said Peterson had been “diligent in complying with his exclusion,” which began Aug. 5, 2019. Peterson agreed to pay $334,800 in restitution. According to the terms, violating the agreement could bring criminal prosecution and as much as $4.5 million in penalties.

Within months of the settlement, Peterson signed Noble’s filing to register in Missouri as a director — as well as its secretary, vice president, and assistant treasurer. In April 2020, he ordered medical supplies for the Callaway hospital, according to a receipt obtained through a public records request.

Pandemic Relief and Unpaid Bills

As in much of rural America, the pandemic was slow to emerge in Callaway and Audrain counties, but covid-19 cases were climbing by fall 2020. The hospitals hired contract nurses for help and when possible transferred patients to larger, urban areas.

Callaway saw a surge in late 2020 and closed its general inpatient care in January 2021. Audrain, the larger hospital, dealt with a surge of daily cases in that span.

Noble pursued all forms of coronavirus-related funding. On its watch, Callaway and Audrain hospitals attested to receiving about $11 million in federal relief, which rolled out after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was enacted in March 2020. Noble’s hospitals also took in $4.8 million in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program that have been forgiven.

Hospital cost reports from 2020 indicate that the millions should have helped: Audrain’s health care staffing costs were $3.5 million, and Callaway’s were $562,000.

Noble also turned to state and local officials. Missouri distributed $1.1 million to Noble from its CARES funding, mostly to Callaway for covid testing.

Callaway County drew from two of its own federal allocations for the hospital. As of February, leaders had approved more than $14,000 for covid testing, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. In addition, invoices provided through a public records request show that the county used CARES Act funding to pay Noble’s hospital nearly $364,000 for covid testing, operations, and marketing.

Noble sought Audrain County’s help last fall to pay contract nurses after pandemic costs soared. Its commissioners approved a one-year $1.8 million loan using ARPA money. The loan is due in September, at a 2.5% interest rate. If Noble defaults, the rate climbs to 5%.

Even as the hospitals looked flush with federal money, contractors were pulling out, according to lawsuits that allege more than $2 million in unpaid bills.

In one suit filed April 21, Moberly Anesthesia Associates said the Audrain hospital failed to pay nearly $214,000 for services provided.

Among other lawsuits:

Noble Health executives Carter and Solomon declined to comment on the lawsuits.

Nueterra Capital CEO Jeremy Tasset, the son of Daniel Tasset, said in a March email that “we are a minority investor in the real estate and have nothing to do with the operations of the hospitals.”

Callaway County records show Noble owes more than $72,000 in unpaid property taxes and penalties.

Audrain and Callaway counties’ records confirm that Noble kept hospital operations and real estate assets separate — a common move, experts said, from the private equity playbook, when profits are expected from property value rather than medicine.

Said Rosemary Batt, a management professor at Cornell University: “That’s a tipoff that they must be doing something to monetize the real estate to make money.”

Patients ‘At Risk for Their Health and Safety’

Eileen O’Grady, research manager at the nonprofit Private Equity Stakeholder Project, said private equity’s focus on strong, speedy returns makes it a risky business model for health care. “In rural hospitals,” O’Grady said, “there are very few ways” to boost revenue and cut expenses “without having an impact on patient care.”

Indeed, by late summer 2021, federal and state inspectors found alarming deficiencies at the Callaway hospital and gave Noble 23 days to fix them.

Noble took some corrective actions, so inspectors cleared the hospital to admit patients and receive funding. But it was not exactly a clean bill of health.

The September checklist of deficiencies spanned 16 pages, compared with 135 the month before. Some lapses, such as not staffing an overnight ER doctor, were unaddressed.

At the Audrain hospital, inspectors found “ineffective management.” Its electronic medical record system did not keep patient information. Its behavioral health staff did not retain records or footage of an alleged patient assault, and inspectors found long electrical cords next to beds, a risk for strangulation.

Meanwhile, the three men who ran Noble were shopping for more hospitals to buy.

Solomon and Carter pitched Noble’s services to officials in Fort Scott, Kansas, whose hospital had closed in 2018. City and county leaders on July 23, 2021, paid $1 million from their American Rescue Plan Act funds for Noble to study the feasibility of reopening. The money was paid to a new company Peterson founded in June, Access Medical Advisors.

Solomon, president of Noble’s real estate company, told the county in late March of an “incredible” finding from the study — Fort Scott’s hospital building was worth $19.6 million, which “could present the borrowing basis or the bonding basis for a really great viable community project to move forward.”

Solomon’s discovery came as Noble’s hospitals in Missouri remained closed, staffers looked for new jobs, and patients traveled even farther for care.

It came as Noble Health appeared to be unraveling. In late March and April, the Kansas City attorney who registered the company, its hospitals, its real estate entities, and Access Medical Advisors — Philip Krause — informed state officials he had resigned his positions with all of them.

Peterson’s LinkedIn page said he has retired from Noble Health. In March he incorporated a new company, Noble Health Services, based at his home address — a half-million-dollar brick colonial in a leafy Kansas City suburb. Its purpose: “healthcare administrative services.”

As for Noble’s failed hospitals, Texas-based Platinum Team Management executive Cory Countryman said it would buy and reopen them. “We have equity investors,” said his colleague Melissa Upshaw, as well as “traditional financing” and “a portfolio of our own.” Countryman does have recent health care experience: In 2017, as CEO, he abruptly shut down Walnut Hill hospital in Dallas.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

Some elements may be removed from this article due to republishing restrictions. If you have questions about available photos or other content, please contact [email protected].

Noble Health Announces Reopening a Hospital in Fort Scott

Artist rendition of the new entrance area at Bourbon County Community Health.
Officials and community members gathered in the McAuley Center at the former Mercy Hospital building on Jan. 31, 2022, to hear Noble Health’s announcement to reopen a hospital.

Fort Scott will get a new hospital.

The Fort Scott City Commission and the Bourbon County Commission signed a contract in July 2021 to facilitate Noble Health Corp’s feasibility study of reopening the former Mercy Hospital building as an acute care hospital.

Today, the decision was announced by Noble Health Corp. to move forward with the project.

Bourbon County, the City of Fort Scott, and other government officials and members of the community gathered in the McAuley Center at the former Mercy Hospital this morning to hear the announcement.

Rob Harrington, Bourbon County Rural Economic Development;  Drew Solomon, Noble Health Corp.; Clifton Beth, Bourbon County Commissioner; Fort Scott Mayor Kevin Allen;  Merrill Atwater, Noble Health; Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt; U.S. Senator Jerry Moran; and  U.S. House of Representative Jake LaTurner all spoke at the event.

The facility will reopen as Noble Health Bourbon County Community Hospital.

Harrington said that approximately 100 jobs will be available in the new hospital and that a Request for Quote will go out in a couple of weeks for the first phase of the construction process.

The whole process could take a year to complete, he said.

The building is located at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. on Fort Scott’s south side, just west of Hwy.69.

Mercy Hospital closed its doors in December 2018, following declining patient numbers and shrinking reimbursement for services.

The building currently houses the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas clinic and the  Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department. Fort Scott Community College has used the patient rooms on the west side of the facility for student housing for the last few years. On the ground level is I Am Rehab Physical Therapy and Fitness and a hair salon, Diamonds in the Marketplace.

“Ascension Via Christi will be staying for a longer period and is currently working out the details of a long-term lease with Noble,” Harrington said in a later email. “CHC’s lease will be expiring at their current location (December 2022), however, they will be continuing services at their new location at the old Price Chopper building after build-out. Also, CHC has been told that they have as long as they need to stay at their current location if the build-out takes longer than expected.”

Background of the Project

Noble Health Corp., Kansas City,  announced on June 25, 2021, the contract for the study.

To view the Noble Health Corp. announcement:

Reopening An Acute Care Hospital In Fort Scott Being Explored by Noble Health

The city contributed $200,000, the county contributed $800,000 towards the feasibility study,  according to the contract. The local government entities used American Rescue Plan money from the federal government for the project, according to Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth.

The American Rescue Plan Act 2021 can be viewed at ARP Act SxS – as of 02.22.21.pdf (house.gov)

The feasibility study investigated the condition of title to the development property, the physical condition of the property, the zoning, the economic feasibility, and all matters relevant to the acquisition, usage, operation, valuation, and marketability of the property and the project, as the developer deemed appropriate

The county government agreed to contribute at least $2,000,000 to finance certain costs and expenses related to and associated with the project, according to the contract.

Continue reading Noble Health Announces Reopening a Hospital in Fort Scott

Former Mercy Hospital Building Reopening Process Moves Forward

Robert Harrington. Submitted photo.

Noble Health Corporation announced yesterday that in the near future they will be deciding whether it is feasible to reopen a hospital at the former Mercy Hospital facility, according to Rob Harrington, Director of  Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc.

“There will be two more meetings with the (Bourbon County) Commission and then they will begin talking with the public about the outcome of the feasibility study,” Harrington said.

“Today was a good day for Bourbon County and we are excited to see the process continue,” he said.
“The next phases will be dedicated to renovation costs and I believe labor,” he said.
“The study has been completed, however, it contains information that at this time needs to remain confidential until after the property is transferred to Noble by the county,” Harrington said. “We are hopeful that this will happen in January and February when they begin doing their town hall meetings.”

 

Noble Health Corp. announced in June 2021 that it would explore the possibility of reopening the acute care hospital facility in Fort Scott, according to a previous press release from the corporation.

The corporation, a Kansas City company, engaged in a cooperative agreement with Bourbon County to conduct a feasibility study that could lead to the reopening of the former Mercy Hospital building, located at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd., according to the press release.

The building is located just off Hwy. 69 on Fort Scott’s south side.

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in December of 2018.

Mercy Hospital before it closed in December 2018.

Since that time Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has leased a portion of the building, and Ascension Via Christi Hospital, Pittsburg,  has leased the emergency department. Those leases end in December 2022. Fort Scott Community College has leased the western part of the building for student housing.

 

To view the prior features on Nobel Health in Fort Scott:

Pharmacist Craig Campbell Retires

Craig Campbell at his desk. His office has been housed in a wing at the Community Health Center since the closing of the former Mercy Hospital.

Craig Campbell is retiring from his 39-year career as a pharmacist on June 30.

A chance conversation with a relative changed the course of his life when deciding on a career.

“By chance, I was visiting with my great uncle who was a pharmacist,” he said. ” Willard Higbee, he was the brother of my grandma, Bernice Campbell.”

“I confided in him that I was working on a chemical engineering degree but did not think I could get through the math requirements,” Campbell said. “He said I would love pharmacy, so I visited with Ken Asher and Bob Tuchscherer, local pharmacists at the time, and they agreed that pharmacy was a wonderful profession.”

Technology advancement has changed his job as a pharmacist.

“Technology has advanced so much with the electronic medical record,” Campbell said.  “It brings into view so much more information that lets you know more about the patient, not just in the present moment but what has gone on before.”

“Prescriptions are so much safer now that we do not have to figure out the doctor’s handwriting,” he said.  “Sorry doctor friends. Pharmacists are an integral part of the patient care team now, since when I started in the fall of 1982.”

He has most recently been Mercy Health System’s Director of Pharmacy Performance, St. Louis, since November 2014. But his office is located in a wing of the former Mercy Hospital, although during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has worked mostly from home, he said.

From 1999-2018  Campbell served as Mercy Hospital Fort Scott’s Pharmacy Director, before that from ’92-’99, was a staff pharmacist at Mt. Carmel  Hospital (now Ascension Via Christi) in Pittsburg.

Campbell worked from1983-1992  for four pharmacy’s starting with his first job in Texas.

Campbell completed a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, OK, and an associate of arts degree in pre-pharmacy from Fort Scott Community College.

For Campbell,  the best part of his career was being a part of patient care teams, which come up with the best plan to improve patient health, he said.

“That has been rewarding,” Campbell said. “While at Mercy Fort Scott…my hometown, I was able to care for a lot of friends and family.”

“I once went into the room of an elderly teacher I had in the seventh or eighth grade,” he said. “The patient taught math. The patient said I must have been a student, but could not recall my name. I told who I was. The patient asked what I did for a living and  I said I was a pharmacist. The patient smiled and said, ‘I must have been a pretty good teacher.’ Yes, the patient was a good teacher.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been the biggest challenge of his career.

“In the six years I have worked for Mercy at the system level, the main responsibility is to make sure each hospital has the medications they need when they need them,” Campbell said. “COVID was the most difficult time as we were competing with every hospital in the country to have enough meds to treat patients, especially those on ventilators. There were many 20 hour days in April and May 2020.”

What is on the horizon for you?

My wife (Jane) says I am trading one OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for another,” he said. “I would really like to help the city and county improve the overall quality of life through organizing volunteer groups to help our neighbors with whatever they need.”

Campbell is chairman of the Good Neighbor Action Team, which helps people with work on yards, house painting, etc.

“The community has three big events coming up next year with Big Kansas Road Trip in May, Good Ole Days, and the Fort Scott High School all-class reunion next June. We really have an opportunity to show off our great town and county.”

“We will also travel some and see more of the grandkids’ activities,” he said.

Campbel has four children: Ryan (who is deceased); Brett and wife, Kayla,  Pittsburg; Trevor and wife, Jami, Overland Park; and Jenna  Campbell and her fiance Devin,  Fort Scott. His grandkids are Mackenize Campbell,  Spokane, WA; Brecken and Landry Campbell,  Pittsburg and  Kennadie, Rush, Austyn,  and Larkin Campbell,  Overland Park.

Bourbon County Government to Receive Former Mercy Building

The Bourbon County Commission room in the courthouse, September 2018.

The Bourbon County Commission will be receiving the former Mercy Hospital building at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. and $600,000 from Mercy as a donation to the county, Rob Harrington, Bourbon County Economic Development Director said in an email.

Robert Harrington. Submitted photo.

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in October 2018.

The Sisters of Mercy had served the community since 1886.

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas has had a clinic at the building since Mercy closed, but is moving when its’ lease is up at the end of 2022.

They have purchased the former Price Chopper store, 2322 Main Street, for their new facility.

The emergency department at the former hospital building also has a lease that will be up in 2022.

The county commission has been working on a solution to keep the building viable, as opposed to tearing the two-decades-old building down.

“Today is the beginning of a process, “Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth said. “The attorneys will be going through the process of accepting the donation and the $600,000.”

Clifton Beth represents District 3. Photo from Facebook.

“We are in conversation with different entities that could potentially have use for that building,” Beth said.

The Bourbon County Commission is comprised of Beth, Lynne Oharah and Jim Harris.

First District Bourbon County Commissioner Lynne Oharah.
Jim Harris, Bourbon County Commissioner, District 2.

Beth said credit needs to go to Harrington who has been working to find entities that are interested.

“A lot of behind-the-scenes work is going on,” Beth said.

“We are trying to save the building,” Beth said. “My main priority is to have an Emergency Room in Bourbon County.”

“At the end of the day, the end users for that building, if they can use it, great,” Beth said. “If not, we’ll look at other options.”

“My goal is to be sure we have an ER,” Beth said. “Ascension Via Christi has one-and-one-half years left on their (current) lease. In conversations with them, they are planning to stay.”

Ascension Via Christi operates the emergency department at the former Mercy Hospital building.

To see more info on Ascension Via Christi:

Via Christi To Operate Fort Scott Emergency Room

Ascension Via Christi/Fort Scott Celebrates Opening of Emergency Department

Listen to Podcasts of Mercy Hospital Closing

Sarah Jane Tribble, a journalist who spent two years telling the story of the closing of Mercy Hospital, offers her podcasts for the listening public.
“Want to ignore what’s happening in DC and escape COVID for a moment?” she said on her Facebook page.  “Here’s a distraction: All chapters of my new podcast Where It Hurts are available via@KHNews&@stlpublicradio
Here’s a list of Fort Scott residents who bravely opened up and shared their pain and courage: Tanner and Sherise Beckham, Dave Martin, Fred Campbell, Reta Baker, Pat and Ralph Wheeler, Dr. Maxwell Self, Linda Findley, Karen Endicott-Coyan, and the late Roxine Poznich, who owned Books & Grannies.
‎Where It Hurts on Apple Podcasts

Podcast of Fort Scott Losing Mercy Hospital Begins Sept. 29

Sarah Jane Tribble. Submitted photo.

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.

Sarah Jane Tribble, in a winter scene in her younger years in Parsons, KS. Submitted photo.

“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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Podcast “No Mercy” Features Fort Scott

‘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.

Contacts:

Chris Lee | (202) 654-1403 | [email protected]
Madalyn Painter | [email protected]

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