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No Mercy: How Ft. Scott is Grappling with Losing its Hospital

Last year [2017], “only 13% of the people in Bourbon County and the surrounding area who needed hospital care chose to stay in Fort Scott, according to industry data shared by Rita Baker.”  Baker was the former CEO of the now-closed Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott, Kansas and was featured in a National Public Radio (NPR) story.

NPR exposes the economic and emotional impact of the closure of Ft. Scott’s hospital in “No Mercy: How a Kansas town is grappling with its hospital’s closure.”

The story spans several years and the radical changes in health access in rural America.  It also highlights the importance of residents choosing to use local services.  In the story, Baker explains, “… patients were also choosing to go to Ascension Via Christi in Pittsburg, KS, because it offered cardiology and orthopedic services, Baker said. Patients also frequently drove 90 miles north to the Kansas City area for specialty care and the children's hospital.”  

A series of cuts in federal reimbursement and the state of Kansas’ lack of Medicaid expansion contributed to the hospital’s closure.  The tale is a compelling story on the importance of local hospitals to the viability of rural America.