By BETSY TAYLOR
Mercy will close Mercy Hospital Independence in southeast Kansas on Oct. 10. The Chesterfield, Mo.-based Mercy system said in a Sept. 3 statement that it conducted an 18-month discernment to seek a way to continue to provide health care services in and around Independence but reached the difficult decision to close the hospital.
The hospital closure will include inpatient services, the emergency department and ambulatory surgery. Some outpatient and clinic services will continue briefly, but those will close no later than Dec. 31, the system said. Joanne Smith, a Mercy regional manager for marketing and communications, said the phasing out of outpatient services will allow time for patients to be notified, for their care to be appropriately transferred, and to provide some time for providers to adjust to the closure.
Lynn Britton, Mercy's president and chief executive, said declining population and utilization patterns in the area, the challenges of recruiting and retaining physicians, increased capital improvement needs and shrinking reimbursement factored into the decision. "This was not the outcome we had sought or expected at the beginning of the discernment process, and our hearts are heavy," he said in a news release. Smith said the hospital experienced significant financial losses in the last two to three years. She said Kansas' decision not to expand Medicaid under health care reform was a factor, but not the only issue.
She said the hospital has been licensed for 75 beds, but had a daily census of fewer than 10. In Independence, a community of about 9,000 people, some potential patients had been traveling to larger communities for their medical care, she said.
Mercy formed a community task force in April 2014 to provide input and explore options for the hospital. Mercy entered into a letter of intent to affiliate with neighboring Coffeyville Regional Medical Center in August, but said they could not reach a final agreement related to continuing health services in Independence.
Smith said Mercy will demolish the oldest buildings on the Independence campus and may donate or transfer the property and remaining buildings on site, though no definitive decision has been made.
Mercy said it has 190 employees in Independence. They will be offered severance packages, though some may be able to transfer to other Mercy facilities, said Kim Day, interim leader for Mercy Independence, in a statement.
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