In December 2018, Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed its’ doors.
Following this, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas reopened a medical clinic at the site at 401 Woodland Hills Blvd. and Ascension Via Christi Hospital opened an emergency department, sharing a portion of the former hospital.
They both have leases until December 2022.
Noble Health Corporation entered the picture in 2021.
They completed a feasibility study for the Bourbon County Commission for reopening a hospital.
The City of Fort Scott contributed $200,000, the county contributed $800,000 towards the feasibility study, according to the contract that was signed June 25, 2021. The local government entities used American Rescue Plan money from the federal government for the project, according to Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth in a prior interview with fortscott.biz.
On June 3, Noble Health’s 179 page Feasibility Assessment to reopen the hospital in Fort Scott was published on the Bourbon County website.
It can be viewed here: BBCO-Hospitial-Feasibilty-Assessment
On June 15, a comprehensive investigative story on Noble Health from Sara Jane Tribble with Kaiser Health News, was posted online.
It reported that Noble Health has a troubled history with operating two hospitals in Missouri.
It can be viewed here: Noble Health: History of Failed Health Care For Patients
CHC Feasibility Study
A prior feasibility assessment by Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas had helped that health care system to make the decision to move to a different building, Krista Postai, CEO and President of CHC/SEK said.
In an interview with her, Postai was asked to compare the Noble Health Assessment to the CHC Assessment that was completed after CHC moved into the former Mercy Hospital building in 2018.
“We have a very comprehensive, detailed report county-by-county that has all the data one needs to make an informed decision on services, location, etc.,” she said. “We also have a strategic plan that is updated annually that maps out where we’re going, new services, etc. Prior to accepting Mercy’s offer to take their clinics, we had already prioritized Ft. Scott because we had almost 2,000 patients from Bourbon County which is enough to justify a site.”
“There was nothing new in Noble’s report that we already didn’t know or hadn’t already been discussed, including the rural emergency hospital concept that Ascension had always planned on pursuing if feasible,” she said. “In fact, much of our data is more current (2021) although, unfortunately, southeast Kansas isn’t getting healthier or wealthier so changes over the last 20 years have been minimal.”
Ascension Via Christ medical system brought an emergency department back to Fort Scott following Mercy Hospital’s closure and shares part of the former Mercy Hospital building with CHC.
“When we first agreed to transition Mercy’s clinic in the hospital over to us, Mercy indicated we had two years to find another location,” she said. “It was their belief that the building would ultimately be demolished unless we wanted to assume responsibility for it.”
“We sliced and diced all the costs based on actual operational data that Mercy supplied us and factored in roof replacement, the chillers and the boilers….all the things that were nearing the end of their useful life,” Postai said. “We also visited with multiple organizations about their interest in leasing space on a long-term basis that would cover the cost to operate and maintain it.”
“At that point, the county opted to present a counter proposal to Ascension at a much lower price per sq. ft. that would require the county to subsidize it, which they indicated they were willing to do. It seemed wise at that point to step back and let the county take the lead since emergency services was their priority.”
Decision to Move to Another Site
“Concerned about the ongoing costs of maintaining the building – and wanting a more efficient design plus a drive-in pharmacy, plus more diagnostic equipment and space to expand behavioral health services — we begin laying plans to move….and approached the Price Chopper owners about their building,” Postai said. “At that time, the asking price was way too high for us, so we asked Mercy for land on which to build which is how we got the eight acres behind the hospital. As we began design on a new building, the Price Chopper price dropped and we agreed it would be faster to renovate….and it was an ideal location. As we calculated, it was more financially feasible to own the building and make loan payments than it was to pay rent on space in a building with an uncertain future.”