Editor’s Note: Sumner Regional Medical Center board member Terry Deschaine brought this editorial to the attention of Sumner Newscow concerning the recent closing of Mercy Hospital in Independence, Kans. It was written by the editor of the Wilson County Citizen in Fredonia on Oct. 19, 2015. Below that is another view by a Jennifer Bacani McKenney, an M.D. physican on how Mercy hospital’s closing is affecting surrounding communities such as her community in Fredonia.
Independence’s Mercy Hospital, which had been losing millions of dollars in recent years, shut its doors for good on Oct. 10, leaving 9,500 residents of Independence unsure where they will go in a medical emergency.
Towns like Independence, in rural, underpopulated southeast Kansas, are having a hard time holding onto their hospital. Mercy is the 56th rural hospital to close in the United States in the past five years, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program.
Generally small and isolated, rural hospitals struggle to provide the latest services and technology. Few doctors want to make their career in rural medicine. And local patients are often drawn to whatever larger hospitals are within driving distance. Those have been issues facing all rural hospitals, not just those who have ceased fighting to stay open.