Troubled Kansas hospital closes after facing overdue bills
HORTON, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas hospital run by an embattled health management company has shut down operations after struggling for months without enough funds to pay its employees or buy medication and food for patients.
The city of Horton’s only medical provider, Horton Community Hospital, closed on Tuesday, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Residents will now have to travel 12 miles (19 kilometers) to Hiawatha for medical care.
The hospital’s chief of staff, Dr. Richard Brown, said the closure didn’t come as a surprise. Hospital staff, who have faced weekslong gaps in pay, had been working with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and Kansas Department of Health and Environment to find a way to keep the facility open, Brown said.
Staff described trash piling up and negotiating with city officials to keep the lights on as the hospital struggled to pay overdue bills.
John Calhoon, Horton’s city administrator and chief of police, said the hospital recently made a partial payment on a utility bill that was nearly two months overdue. Calhoon expects a March invoice to go unpaid.
“It’s not anything that any of us wanted to happen, but we just have to move forward from here,” he said.
The hospital in the town of about 1,700 people was transferred to iHealthcare after being managed by EmpowerHMS, which is associated with other Kansas hospitals that have closed after being unable to pay their bills. The former EmpowerHMS-owned Oswego Community Hospital shuttered in February, and an affiliated hospital in rural Missouri was cut off from Medicare this month.
C.J. Grover, a spokesman for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, said the agency is investigating Horton Community Hospital, but declined to comment further.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com