FORT SCOTT, Kan. — Ascension Via Christi announced the end for its Ft. Scott emergency department on Tuesday.

The health system said the department will officially close on Wednesday, December 20. They said the decision comes “after a thorough analysis of trend data, patient census, and the current and future challenges and opportunities facing [the] facility.”

A decline in visits and average daily census combined with economic challenges limit the department’s ability to continue, Via Christi added.

“After exploring the options available, it was clear that this was the only option for us. There are other providers in the region positioned to serve the residents of Fort Scott and neighboring communities. These providers will help us ensure continuity of care for our patients as we approach closure,” says Drew Talbott, president of Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly released the following statement in response to the closure:

“I am incredibly saddened by the news that Ascension Via Christi’s Emergency Department in Fort Scott is closing. Bourbon County residents have already had to drive 30 miles to Pittsburg – or, in some cases, 90 miles to Kansas City – for most care since Mercy Hospital closed five years ago. Now, even in emergencies, they’ll have one less place to turn, threatening their health and safety.  

“I’ve been touring the state rallying for Medicaid Expansion for six weeks, and in that time, we’ve seen a rural hospital and now an emergency room close. How much more evidence do we need that rural communities need our support to keep health care affordable and accessible? Enough is enough. It’s time to act.” 

The Kansas Department of Commerce Rapid Response Team is reaching out to Ascension Via Christi leadership and will be sharing resources with employees who are now looking for work.