HODGEMAN COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Hodgeman County Health Center is asking for a $1.5 million no-fund warrant through the state, a kind of loan for municipalities in financial trouble.
“We’re not the first or the last rural hospital,” said Sarah Rains, Hodgeman County Clerk. “Especially, the more out west you get, the harder it is to have critical access care, and a lot of hospitals are financially struggling.”
The loan comes at a cost to taxpayers, and it would be paid off over five years through a mill levy increase.
“We’re using ballpark figures because we don’t know what the value of the county will be next year,” explained Rains. “That changes year to year, and that could change what the value of one mill would be worth.”
How did the hospital get here?
As financial documents show, the hospital has almost $1.5 million in outstanding collections. Bills that patients couldn’t or haven’t paid that the hospital had to absorb.
Hospital officials declined to speak on camera but said Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements dropped by a third in the past few years, and they’re not seeing enough patients.
Since March, the hospital has been cutting hours to try to avoid the worst and the hospital administrator gave her 30-day notice on Friday.
Administrator Terry Deuel said she resigned in the hopes that it would make it easier to approve the warrant. She said the hospital received a lot of negative responses from the public and someone needed to take the fall. She was afraid the hospital would close without the warrant.
Hospital officials said they have enough funds to operate for the next 60 days. The county clerk estimates it will take about 6 weeks to get the warrant approved as a short-term fix.
The hospital said a consultant is being brought in to look at what the hospital can do long-term to stay open.