Healthcare agreement to bring big changes to Allen County hospital

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IOLA, Kan.–Big changes are in the works for a Southeast Kansas hospital – a new agreement designed to set the stage for the future.

Morgan Dieker is optimistic about the new deal at the Allen County Regional Hospital.

“I think it’s scary for anyone in a smaller town to think they may have to drive 20 to 30 minutes just to get to an emergency room,” explained pharmacist Morgan Dieker.

The Iola pharmacist sees a strong hospital as a top priority in Iola.

“It’s very important to have access to healthcare, especially in a small community,” Dieker added.

And now, local patients know what to expect for the next ten years. That’s the minimum length of the new agreement with St. Luke’s Health System. They’ll be taking over operations on the medical campus.

“They will operate the hospital; all the employees will become St. Luke’s employees,” explained hospital board president Loren Korte.

Allen County owns the hospital, built just six years ago at a cost of $30 million.

“Make sure we have good facilities, good management to bring specialists in to work with our folks in the county,” Korte continued.

Hospital leaders see that as a top priority, given what’s happened to other small hositals nearby.

“Two or three that’s closed, some more out west. My concern with it, today we’re good,” siad Korte. “But four or five years from now–depending on what happens with Medicare and insurance company payments–it could be tough to make it.”

St. Luke’s is expected to take over operations at the hospital early next year.

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