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Critically ill rural patients are often sent to city hospitals for high-level treatment, and as their numbers grow, some urban hospitals are buckling under the added strain. Meanwhile, mask-wearing and other pandemic prevention measures remain spotty in rural counties.
In Fort Scott, Kansas, the Community Health Center’s big green-and-white sign replaced Mercy Hospital’s name on the front of the town’s massive medical building. In the final chapter of Season One: “No Mercy,” we have an appointment to see what’s inside.
Having a child with a food allergy is terrifying for any parent, but for low-income families such allergies can be especially deadly. Food assistance programs and food pantries rarely take allergies into account. And access to specialists, support groups and lifesaving epinephrine can be hard to attain. This especially hurts low-income Black children, who have higher incidences of allergies to corn, wheat and soy than white kids.
Meet Josh. He’s a teenager in Fort Scott, Kansas, who dropped out of high school around the same time the town’s hospital closed. He says those two things are related.
The hunt for good cancer treatment often means miles on the road, time spent waiting and exhaustion from treatment and transit. “The further you have to travel to get care, the less likely that you are going to take that effort to do that,” said Boban Mathew, an oncologist in southeastern Kansas.
Mercy Hospital and the people of Fort Scott, Kansas, have a long, tangled history. To understand what the town lost when the hospital shut its doors, we rewind the story to 1886.
Fort Scott, Kansas, went without an ER for 18 days, after the local hospital shut down. Documenting local trauma during that “dark period” helped investigative reporter Sarah Jane Tribble unravel some of the complications that come after a rural hospital closes.
After Mercy Hospital Fort Scott shut its doors, investigative reporter Sarah Jane Tribble traveled to Kansas and spent time with former hospital president Reta Baker and City Manager Dave Martin — to understand what their town lost.
Listen to “Where It Hurts,” each episode debuting on Tuesdays, from Sept. 29 through Nov. 10. When Mercy Hospital Fort Scott shut its doors, locals lost care. Health workers lost jobs. The hole left behind is bigger than a hospital. Season One is “No Mercy.”
A lack of direction from federal administrators is causing confusion for many hospital administrators. Rural hospitals are among the ones hit hardest.
Missouri Hospital Association says the switch of data collection from the CDC to a new HHS contractor is “a major disruption.” In Kansas, the move likely will delay hospitalization data.
In an investigation last year, KHN detailed the rise and fall of Miami businessman Jorge A. Perez’s rural hospital empire, which spanned eight states and encompassed half of the rural hospital bankruptcies in 2019.
Following a KCUR report, Kansas officials said the state’s public reporting of pandemic trends will count all tests that come back positive for the new coronavirus, even when the patient has no symptoms.
At the start of the spring planting season, farmers across the U.S. heartland were already trying to recover from last year’s flooding amid worsening economic conditions when the pandemic struck. Farm bankruptcies and suicides continue to climb. A lack of mental health resources in rural America makes finding help more complicated.
Because the surge of COVID-19 cases hasn’t yet hit all parts of America, some hospitals are able to learn lessons from the hot spots and prepare for the onslaught. In Wichita, Kansas, Ascension Via Christi hospitals converted a portion of a hospital cafeteria into a grocery store and offered alternative housing and child care for staff members working long hours in a stressful setting. The hospital group is also working with local aircraft manufacturers and 3D-printing hobbyists to produce face shields and other safety materials.
President Donald Trump says he “saved” popular protections for preexisting conditions, even though his administration is in court asking them to be struck down. Meanwhile, Democrats who want to run against Trump in the fall continue to argue among themselves over health issues. And Kansas may become the next state to expand Medicaid. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Shefali Luthra of Kaiser Health News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more.
It’s been about a year since the hospital in Fort Scott, Kan., closed. The lessons for this community about meeting its residents’ health needs could provide insights for the rest of the country.
After surviving two double lung transplants, Dylan Mortimer, a Kansas City artist, turns his battle with cystic fibrosis into joyous, whimsical art. Now Mortimer buys glitter by the pound and uses it to create mixed-media collages and sculptures for hospitals, private collectors and public spaces.
Eight years ago, a new medical program opened in Salina, Kan., as an experimental way to promote rural medicine. Hailed as a solution to the rural doctor shortage, only three of its eight newly minted doctors are now working in the most rural communities.
State regulators and even one medevac company have raised doubts about prepaid subscriptions and promised benefits offered by air ambulance companies.