Freeman plans to open an emergency room and 10 inpatient beds in Fort Scott, Kansas | Local News

Freeman plans to open an emergency room and 10 inpatient beds in Fort Scott, Kansas |  Local News

FORT SCOTT, Kan. – Freeman Health System announced further expansion in southeast Kansas on Thursday.

Freeman CEO Paula Baker told a crowd gathered around the emergency entrance of the former Fort Scott Hospital — now known as Bourbon County Medical Center — that Freeman would reopen the emergency department of the old hospital. Freeman would also have 10 inpatient beds in the building.

Baker said: “We will have six separate bays and we will have 365-day, 24/7 coverage from licensed doctors and nurses specifically trained in emergency medicine. We’re also going to have some support for this emergency department, such as a laboratory, radiology department, CT scan and inpatient pharmacy. All these services play a very important role in the treatment of emergency patients. We will also have the opportunity to have outpatient laboratory, radiology and CT services, which will be accessible to this and surrounding communities.

This is Freeman’s second announcement of an expansion into southeast Kansas in less than a year.

“I know I speak for everyone here when I say this is the most astonishing announcement we’ve had in years for a small community like Fort Scott,” said longtime resident Karen Billiard. dates from Fort Scott. “It takes a combination of commerce, medicine and a good education system to attract people and allow our city to develop. We were missing the hospital part. Now we are safe.

Baker said Freeman was happy to come to the town of 7,600 that was without an emergency room or urgent care this year.

“I love your enthusiasm because we’re really excited about this as well,” Baker said. “At Freeman Health System, we firmly believe – in fact, we know – that every community needs and deserves quality medical care, especially emergency care for life-threatening or life-altering situations. his life. Without emergency medical care, every resident in the community is vulnerable. When an illness, injury or accident occurs suddenly, you need emergency care you can count on right in your backyard.

Mercy closed the hospital in late 2018 but maintained the emergency room and services for a short time.

Wichita-based Ascension Via Christi, which operates a hospital in Pittsburg, operated an emergency room in the former hospital until the end of 2023, but since that operation closed, patients have faced a approximately 30 minute drive to Nevada, Missouri. , or Pittsburg to the nearest emergency room.

Mark McCoy, board president of Bourbon County Regional Economic Development Inc., or REDI, said people are excited to have emergency care back in the community.

“It’s a very positive and optimistic feeling for the citizens of Bourbon County, especially myself,” McCoy said. “We believe it is vital for our community to have an emergency room. We have two very large employers here, and they both create opportunities. Between them they probably have 700 employees and emergency services are important to them. Farmers and ranchers…vehicles are flipped…accidents happen, so to be able to have emergency services right here where they can get to you, especially if someone has a stroke or a heart attack , you need to be able to get to that patient very quickly, it’s vital.

Rob Harrington, executive director of REDI, said the old hospital building will be about 90 percent full when Freeman opens its emergency room and 10 inpatient beds.

The final area to fill would be a group of old operating rooms in the back of the building, and he said he hoped Freeman could open those up as well.

Freeman CEO Paula Baker said it was “very likely that once the emergency room is operational, we will consider offering outpatient surgeries and other services.”

Other services currently at the former hospital are the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center, which provides mental health counseling to youth and adults, and the Kansas Renewal Institute, which provides adolescent behavioral health care and inpatient care .

Bourbon County Commissioner Clifton Beth thanked the committee that helped pass a quarter-cent sales tax that would generate about $700,000 annually to help support the new auditorium. emergency as well as the people and agencies who preserved the old hospital so that it could house these services.

Baker said opening an emergency room and inpatient beds requires going through a government permitting process that will take several months. She said Freeman hopes to open the facility in early 2025.

Last August, Freeman announced plans to spend about $168 million to build a 170,000-square-foot, 50-bed full-service hospital in Pittsburg.

Baker also said at the time that Freeman already had a large footprint in southeast Kansas, with several primary care clinics, an ambulatory surgery center and a comprehensive medical oncology program in Pittsburg. Freeman also has a partnership as the exclusive sports medicine provider for Pittsburg State University.

Asked about Pittsburg’s plans, Baker said an announcement on the location of the proposed hospital was expected in the coming weeks.