Community Discussion of Proposed Sales Tax to Fund an E.R.

Mercy Hospital Fort Scott signed an agreement with Ascension Via Christi to provide equipment and furnishings for emergency room services in 2019. Ascension Via Christi ceased operating the E.R. in 2023.

The Ascension Via Christi Emergency Department ceased operations in December 2023 in Fort Scott, and since then many in the community have been seeking solutions.

To view the announcement by AVC:

December 20: Ascension Via Christi Closes Emergency Department in Fort Scott

The Bourbon County Commission recently proposed a community vote to see if they will support a one-quarter sales tax to help fund an emergency department. That vote will be on May 14.

On April 11 about 75 people attended the meeting facilitated by a newly formed group called Citizens For An ER. It was held at the Fort Scott Community College Ellis Center.

Members of the group are  Jamie Armstrong, Craig Campbell, Lynda Foster, Charles Gentry,  Mark McCoy, Randy Nichols, and Doug Ropp.

Dr. Nichols listed some of the reasons the community needs an ER and the importance to the community.

Charles Gentry then explained the ballot proposal, explaining that the additional sales tax would add 25 cents for every $100 spent, so a $10 meal would cost 2.5 cents more. The tax would start on October 1 and run for 5 years.  Voters could choose to terminate it before those 5 years are complete, he said.

Approximately 75 people attended the meeting at Fort Scott Community College’s Ellis Center on Thursday night.

Mr. Gentry said there are three ways an emergency department can be set up:

  • As part of a hospital.
  • As a remote operation for another hospital that is within 35 miles.
  • As part of a rural emergency hospital (REH).
Charles Gentry speaks to the audience about the sales tax measure on the ballot. From left are Craig Campbell, Doug Ropp, Randy Nichols, and Gentry. Mark McCoy was the moderator. Armstrong and Foster were absent.

If the county cannot establish an emergency department within those 5 years, the funds could be used for emergency medical services or for property tax reduction, Gentry said.

Mr. Gentry clarified that the group presenting was supporting an emergency room. They weren’t supporting a sales tax other than a means to the end of creating an emergency room. He made it clear that their job was not done once a vote occurred. They intended to monitor, report, and hold the county accountable for spending the money to achieve the goal of an ER.

He said that this sales tax does not guarantee they will be able to bring an E.R. to Fort Scott, but he was confident that without this, Fort Scott would not get an E.R.

Craig Campell spoke about the Rural Emergency Hospital Act, which was passed to help make rural hospitals sustainable. Currently, Fort Scott does not qualify for REH status because the hospital was closed before the cut-off date in the act, but there are some bills to extend the date to make Fort Scott eligible. The REH designation would allow the rural hospital to bill at 105% and would also be subsidized by several hundred thousand dollars per month.

In the first quarter of 2023, there were 128 out-of-town transfers from the Fort Scott  Ascension Via Christ Emergency Department E.R.  Without a local E.R., the first quarter of 2024 saw 292 transfers by EMS.

Since the only entities that could run an E.R. in Fort Scott are existing hospitals, there is less risk of the money being spent on something like $1,000,000 that was paid to Noble Health.

The donation agreement with Legacy  Health Foundation stipulates that maintaining ownership of the hospital building requires maintaining the property, making it available for non-profits, and developing an acute care hospital on that site. If they do not do those things, the building returns to the county.  Three years remain on the agreement.


The next community discussion will be at Uniontown on Wednesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall Meeting Room.



401 Woodland Hills Blvd. The emergency department is located on the south side of this campus.

3 thoughts on “Community Discussion of Proposed Sales Tax to Fund an E.R.”

  1. The answer to everything is raise taxes, that’s all they do while collecting their salaries.
    Go ahead and raise the taxes, raise them as much as you want. I vow to not spend a single penny within this county if the taxes go any higher, we’re already the highest taxed populous in the COUNTRY

  2. Our taxes are very high as is people can’t afford very and the pay here is pretty low compared to others, but if I had to choose between an emergency room/hospital or a stupid pike lake that would raise the taxes to 14% I would choose the emergency room/hospital.

  3. Our healthcare in Bourbon County is a great concern to me. I am grateful to this group who are trying to make things better for all of us. I strongly support their efforts to make it possible for all of us who may eventually need emergency services to receive it here in our home area. I will gladly pay a tiny part of what might be necessary to get what our citizens deserve. I hope enough others see this five year tax as our chance to once again feel that our personal health is a priority to our community. And I will sign my name, as this is such an important issue to me.

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