Harper County Could Lose Both Hospitals

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Harper County could lose both of its hospitals if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction eliminates critical access designations for hospitals within 15 miles of another.

Health leaders in Harper County are trying to save the two hospitals they said serve as a safety net for elderly in rural communities.

"In the rural areas, we are primarily Medicare so it greatly affects us. I can't answer for other facilities, but for our facility, this is in excess of a million dollars and we can't make enough cuts to take up that slack," said Kim Cinelli, CEO of Harper Hospital.

Dozens in the rural community came out to demonstrate against the proposals.

"We need the local hospitals to take care of these elderly people and provide them quality health care so it's very important. It would really be a tragedy if we lost our hospitals," said Bob Domnick, Harper resident.

People gathered to celebrate "National Rural Health Day" and rally against the possible elimination of the critical access designation for hospitals within 15 miles of another. This was something that leaders said could easily close their doors.

"Rural hospitals like ours, that have the critical access designation, we take care of 72 million Americans. Basically, we kind of see this as an attack on rural America," said Bryant Anderson, CEO of Anthony Medical Center.

If the committee recommends the "15 mile rule" as many as 250 nationwide would be affected, with about a dozen here in Kansas.

All Critical Access Hospitals are located in rural communities. Leaders said that is important to reach out to legislators and those in bigger cities to rally against the proposals.

"We would hope that the cities would pick up on this, be aware of this, and they would also shout out to Congress," said Anderson.

The committee will make its recommendations to Congress next Wednesday.

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