Mercy Assembles Community Task Forces in Response to Rural Health Care Challenges

April 23, 2014

Mercy announced today that it is beginning a process of thoughtful community discussion and discernment to explore options for the future of its health ministry in Fort Scott and Independence. The process is in response to escalating challenges that are impacting all health care providers who serve predominately rural areas, including population trends, utilization patterns and reimbursement changes.

“Just as our health ministries in Fort Scott and Independence were begun in response to community needs, today we are holding true to our legacy of continuously assessing community need and, as necessary, making adjustments in how we serve,” said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and chief executive officer.

Task forces in each of the two communities will involve board members, physician leaders and Mercy leadership. Input will be sought from a variety of community perspectives, including input from the Diocese of Wichita. Task force members will review data, explore options and present recommendations to Mercy leadership. While there is no specific timeline, work will begin this month and work is expected to progress quickly.

All options will be considered, including possible partnerships with other providers in the region and changes in scope of services, according to Reta Baker, Mercy Hospital Fort Scott president.

"We are grateful for the task force members that have agreed to the responsibilities set before them. These are important discussions regarding the future options for health care in the communities we serve," said Baker.

"Rural health care is a changing landscape, and our Mercy Kansas communities are no exception. We must carefully consider changes to our current model and determine steps for the long-term delivery of care in our market. Just as the Sisters of Mercy before us, we are committed to doing what is right for both the community and our health care ministry."

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