It’s time for the Winfield and Ark City hospitals to join forces, or at least have serious, transparent discussions about doing so.
This idea has been floating in the ether for years, decades even, but hasn’t come to pass for both good and bad reasons.
In an ideal world, each city would have its own hospital with important services such as emergency, ICU, testing, surgery and so forth. A community hospital is also an important economic engine and source of pride and identity.
But the reality of rising healthcare costs and shrinking reimbursements has been hurting rural hospitals for years. Consolidating services to save costs, create a larger pool of patients and attract more specialists seems inevitable. We should pursue this track before we hang on to two full-service hospitals fighting to make ends meet and inevitably seeking taxpayer support.
Today, the financial pressures facing both William Newton Hospital and SCK Health are acute. WNH is more than $3 million in the hole this year, and SCK is not far behind. At some point, pandemic relief funds will run out, but the prevailing economics won’t.
We don’t know exactly what a combined health system would look like. But we believe the smart, capable and caring people in the health care industry in both towns can figure that out if they come together with the interests of people and patients — not parochialism — in mind.
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