The Kiowa County Memorial Hospital has positive future in spite of economic conditions

The Kiowa County Memorial Hospital is not closing and there is nothing in the future that would indicate the hospital would close.

That is the current status of the hospital after a recent study by The Chartis Group revealed that the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital had the worst operating margin at minus 58 percent.

When stories were published about the rating, the hospital got lots of inquiries about the future of the hospital and was it going to close. Concerned people took to Facebook with lots of questions and senior citizens wanted to know if the hospital had enough money to stay open, said Mary Sweet, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital administrator since 2001.

Sweet said while their operating margin was at minus 58 percent, that was just one part of the total operation of the hospital. If you look at the cash flow, the margin can become positive if you don't look at the non-cash expenses like depreciation.

This is a $25 million hospital and it has a $2.2 million debt. The hospital has a lot of depreciation. It's not the cash value it's a paper value that's included in the operating margin.

The fact is, the hospital is paying its bills, its replacing equipment when necessary and the staff is getting paid.

"We have no plans on closing," Sweet said. "We're not in danger of closing this building and we will be here long term."

The Kiowa County Hospital is a non-profit critical access hospital. The hospital was destroyed in the 2007 EF 5 tornado that destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg. The tornado destroyed both the hospital and the contents. When the new hospital was complete, it had to have new equipment and furnishings because there was nothing to move in, Sweet said.

When the new hospital was built, it was anticipated that more people would come back to the community and rebuild.

That didn't happen. The population dropped from 1,500 to 777 and that impacted hospital revenue.

The hospital depends on the mil levy. With fewer people in the city and the county population decreasing, there is less coming in from the community and the hospital depends on that community support. Even though mil levy income is down, the hospital opted to not increase it, Sweet said.

When Kansas didn't participate in Medicaid expansion, that also played a part in the revenue to the hospital.

But for all these issues, Kiowa County Hospital continues to operate and operate efficiently. There is cash on hand and the cash flow is doing well. The hospital has not made any layoffs, they have cut no services and they are able to replace equipment as is needed.

The hospital has 24 hour Emergency Room service, they have two rural health clinics, a full time physical therapist, x-ray and CT on site, 24 hour laboratory and acute care service. Other services include intermediate and acute patient care, physical therapy, diabetic teaching, visiting on-site specialists for dental, eyes and neurologist so people don't have to go out of town for those services. They are very used in the community, Sweet said.

"I think we're doing well. I think that's what any hospital wants to say," Sweet said. "I believe in the hospital staff and our services. I believe we do well in serving our community."

The hospital doesn't deliver babies and no surgery is done here. The goal of the hospital is to provide the services people need. When patients come to Greensburg, the goal of the hospital is to get patients the help they need in timely manner.

The Kiowa County Memorial Hospital is county owned and leased to Great Plains Health Alliance out of Phillipsburg and they run the hospital. Great Plains manages about 20 hospitals that all have their own administrators.

@GaleR_Tribune