Hospital boards discuss rural healthcare challenges

Hospital boards and staffs across the area gathered Wednesday night at the Clarion Inn in Garden City for the Pioneer Health Network’s 2016 Conference for Hospital Boards to look at challenges and the solutions for rural healthcare in southwest Kansas.

Sister Mary Jean Ryan, former CEO and board chair of SSM Health, who was the featured speaker Wednesday night, said the primary thing she wanted to drive home is the basic responsibility for governance.

She said the closing of hospitals is a concern, mentioning the recent financial troubles impacting Hamilton County Hospital, and the possibility it could join the hospital in Independence that has already closed its doors. Hospital closures mean people will have to travel more, often over great distances, to find healthcare services.

“How far do people have to go for healthcare?” she asked.

Rep. John Doll, R-Garden City, said when hospitals close in a community, people who need consistent care may decide to move out of the community they have lived in for decades to be closer to another hospital.

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