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Mercy Hospital to Focus on Emergency and Outpatient Medicine.

               The state of Kansas notified us at the end of May that in order to continue providing skilled nursing care, we must undertake an extensive remodel to come into compliance with every physical space regulation that a brand new nursing home would be built to. This has led to some very difficult decisions being put in front of us and we have done our best to understand the direction God has for us. For the time being, we have decided to put all of our energy into expanding our outpatient services while keeping an eye on some legislation that, if passed as proposed, would allow us to pick back up where we left off with minimal or no changes.

               You may be wondering how we got to this crossroads, and honestly, we sometimes wonder too. Last fall, as it became clear that becoming a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) was the only way we could remain open, we were assured at several levels that our Skilled Nursing Services would remain operating exactly as they had been. It was to become clear only later that this model of hospital was so new, some of the law is still being interpreted by government.

               In February, when our official designation as an REH was confirmed and backdated to January 1, 2024, we lost the ability to bill for our skilled services. We were then told that our old “distinct part”* Nursing Facility had been surrendered in 1997 when Mercy Hospital started using “swing beds”**. When we pressed CMS (Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services) for answers and direction, they told us that we just needed to continue trying to submit data to show continued compliance while we worked with our state agencies to resolve the re-licensure and backdating. Since February, we have been trying to figure out our next steps and were not able to receive definitive answers until we finally got both state agencies on the same conference call towards the end of May. This brings us to present day.

               After much thought and prayer, the Board of Directors together with Administration made the difficult decision to discontinue our skilled services for the current time and put our energy into growing our outpatient departments. We are moving past our initial disappointment and getting enthused about the prospect of bringing in visiting specialized clinicians to use some of the open space throughout the week. Our walk-in clinic hours will soon be expanded to include weekends and holidays, so watch for an update on that! We have had two new graduates (twin sisters!) join the Mercy Therapy/Revive Performance group, so we will be equipped to meet our community’s therapy needs. Another thing to be looking for is an announcement about our Direct Access Testing. This will be a service that allows you to get lab and eventually radiology work done without a doctor’s order. You will be responsible for interpreting the test results unless you specify a doctor that you would like the results to be sent to.

               Please reach out to us with your questions and concerns. We feel that providing skilled nursing care has been the heart of our mission to serve you, and it really hurts to have to set it aside. That being said, it does open up some possibilities for us to explore new services that we wouldn’t have had the bandwidth to research otherwise. The Church of God in Christ, Mennonite group, local churches, and you as a community have been very gracious in helping the hospital remain open over the years and we are extremely grateful for your support.

               As I close this article, I want to be clear that Mercy Hospital is remaining open. Our Emergency Room is available 24/7 with observation services for keeping somebody overnight and our outpatient services like the IV Infusions, Therapy, Procedures, and Walk-In Clinic just continue to grow. If you know of a need in the community for different or new types of services, come by and tell us in person or get in touch by phone or email. We have a lot to be thankful for here and want to remember God’s goodness even through the difficult days.


*Distinct part means just that; a distinct part of the facility set aside to provide a certain type of care.

**Swing beds are beds or rooms that are authorized to be used for multiple levels of care, thus not requiring that a patient switch rooms to a different part of the facility as their level of care changes.