Mercy Hospital Update by Reta Baker

Reta Baker. Courtesy photo.

On October 1, 2018,  Fort Scott Mercy Hospital President Reta Baker announced the closing of the hospital  at years end.

Mercy Hospital has been a part of the community since 1885, and the news sent shock waves into Bourbon County and all of Kansas.

Baker has been working on transitioning to a new medical care system in Fort Scott in these specific areas:  a medical clinic,  an ambulance service, a patient transportation service, an emergency room service, therapy services and home health and hospice services.


The following is an update provided from  Baker, following a request from FortScott.Biz.

“New models of care are becoming a reality for many rural communities,” Baker said. “It is not an easy change. At the Kansas Hospital Association meeting this week it was reported that 73% of the rural hospitals report having a negative operating margin, and over the upcoming year we will see many more communities faced with this change and we may be in a position to be the cutting edge example of doing this successfully.


“These new models of care have at least at least three components, we are striving for five:


  1. A clinic that is designed to meet the needs of the community.  Mercy has assured this need is met through the transition of all clinic operations to the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK).  They are a primary care clinic with expanded services to support dental and behavioral needs of communities they serve. CHC/SEK is in the process of interviewing and hiring as many of our current staff as they can accommodate.  The following list of providers have confirmed that they will be continuing their practices with CHC/SEK:
  • Dr. Katrina Burke, who will continue to provide prenatal care and deliver babies at Via Christi in Pittsburg.
  • Dr. Maxwell Self, who will continue to provide support to the Home Health and Hospice.
  • Dr. P.K. Gugnani, who will continue to provide an important role in our occupational medicine efforts.
  • Beth Newkirk ARNP will practice part-time at the FS location.
  • Pam Moyer, ARNP, will be joining CHC/SEK in the FS location, she has worked convenient care and is currently working in the ER.
  • Christine O’Dell, ARNP, who will continue to practice at the Convenient Care Location.
  • Hannah Born, ARNP, will be practicing with CHC/SEK at the Pittsburg location.
  • Amber Hunziker, ARNP, will be practicing with CHC/SEK in the Pittsburg and Arma location.
  • Amanda Stice, ARNP, will continue her practice with CHC/SEK.


The following list of providers are continuing to consider their options:


  • Dr. Larry Seals has not decided where his office will be located but intends to remain in the area, and will be delivering babies at Nevada Regional or Via Christi.
  • Dr. John Fox has not decided where his office will be located but intends to remain in the area, once he makes his choice this will be shared with the community.
  • Greg King, ARNP, has not decided where his office will be located but also intends to remain in the area, once he makes his choice this will be shared with the community.



  1. A strong ambulance service. Mercy has been contracted by (Bourbon) County to provide the ambulance service since 1991.  Mercy is working with the county to transition ownership of the ambulances and equipment to the county.  The county will engage the City (of Fort Scott) under the structure of the fire department to operate the ambulance.  It is expected that the same highly trained staff will provide the service seamlessly to the community.


  1. A transportation system to facilitate patients being able to get to provider appointments as well as to those that require a specialist.  Through CHC/SEK, facilitating transportation to physician appointments if they have no means of transportation, is a service they do provide.


  1. An emergency room is an added component we are striving for and consider a high priority but is not always present in rural models.  Mercy is in discussion with an entity for the provision of an emergency department.  This entity is in the process of completing due diligence to determine whether it can be a feasible and sustainable investment for them. As with the other services, Mercy is facilitating to remain in the community all of the equipment to operate the ER would be transitioned to this entity.


  1. Therapy services of physical, speech and OT which is another added and the fifth component to the model of care. A group of therapists has formed a company “I Am Rehab” to provide physical and occupational therapy as well as the continued (Health For Life) fitness center facilities for the community.


“Mercy has offered and is willing to work with the city and county to facilitate a smooth transition of EMS and ambulance services.


“Home health and hospice services will continue but transition around Feb. 1, 2019, to the new name of Integrity. A large percentage of the providers will stay with the new management. The service area will remain the same and perhaps expand.”


6 thoughts on “Mercy Hospital Update by Reta Baker”

  1. This is why living in a small town isn’t worth it anymore. Life is becoming urbanized, and small towns are falling to the wayside.

    Fort Scottians – you need to let your voices be heard. Your city government needs to receive letters, civil phone calls, your opinions at town meetings.

    A town of 7,000ish people (a large percentage of whom are elderly and/or have a chronic illness) really needs a hospital. This decimation of small towns is the direct result of local governments that don’t know how to govern. The end of Mercy has been long coming – the question that should be asked is, ‘Why hasn’t our local government done anything about this?’

  2. We have been doctoring at Ft. Scott for a few years and are so sorry the hospital is closing. Very grateful our doctors are staying. You didn’t say anything about lab and x Ray. Are those services continuing?

    1. See this feature from Krista Postai, the CEO of the healthcare system that will be the replacement to Mercy.

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