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Commission backs new Ellinwood hospital
Current facility one over 70 years old, outdated
ellinwood hospital letter 1
Ellinwood District Hospital Chief Executive Officer Kile Magner addresses the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning about a letter of support for EDH’s effort to build a new facility. The commission approved offering its support. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Noting it would improve health care opportunities in Barton County, the County Commission Wednesday morning approved a letter supporting Ellinwood District Hospital’s bid for a United States Department of Agriculture loan to help fund its planned new facility. 

“We are really fortunate here in Barton County to have this kind of health care,” said District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz of the many options available. “This will only make health care in Barton County better.”

Kile Magner, EDH chief executive officer, said they are seeking to build a replacement to their existing hospital.

“Our building is 76 years old,” he said. Highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic was the structure’s inability to support the current treatment needs.

Also, the present location is nestled at 605 North Main St. in the northwest corner of town and landlocked. “We can’t expand or add services,” he said.

Magner said they have added providers to their roster utilizing existing space, and have opened an off-site pharmacy.

Last June, EDH officials announced the new site would sit on 15.85 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of Park Street and U.S. 56. This site is located across from the Grove Park Golf Course and the Ellinwood Packing Plant.

The loan would fund revenue bonds to fiance the new facility, he said. The hospital’s financials have been strong enough to cover these, and there would be no tax increase needed.

The hospital district is a separate property tax-supported entity.

“The building is in a state of disrepair,” Magner said. It is not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and is not up to fire codes. 

Renovating in place would cost more than building new. “Our only option is to replace it,” he said. 

From an economic standpoint, EDH makes a strong financial impact, Magner said. It has a staff of 104, 70 of which are full time including the eight medical practitioners.

An important asset

The facility has a $5 million payroll. When the jobs of employee family members are factored it, that number is around $8 million.

In addition, it generates $2 million in retail sales and $1 million on local services, Magner said.

“The hospital has never been more important than it is now,” he said. “But, its effect on the health of the community is even greater.”

Magner said the move will accomplish a number of objectives, not the least of which is to save significant amounts of time and money and relieve congestion in town, while also making the institution more accessible, Magner said.

Should the USDA application be successful. Magner said they hope to break ground this fall. The estimated cost is $20 million and it should be complete in 2.5 years

The fate of the current building remains undetermined, he said. It may be sold to the City of Ellinwood or another business, but it is too soon to tell.

Ellinwood Hospital and Clinic is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital and Rural Health Clinic. 

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:

• Approved a letter of support for Ellinwood District Hospital. Kile Magner, EDH chief executive officer, said they are seeking to build a replacement to their existing facility.

• Approved updates to the regulations for Barton County owned and operated memorial parks and cemeteries. While most fees will remain the same, the cost for plots at Golden Belt and Hillcrest memorial parks north of Great Bend will increase from $250 to $350.

• Approved an amended resolution regarding the Barton County Neighborhood Revitalization Plan that was effective Jan. 1.

After adopting both a resolution and the interlocal agreement supporting the plan in September, 2021, the interlocal was submitted to the Kansas Attorney General who approved it, said County Appraiser Wendy Prosser.

However, some entities were not included in the original document and opted to join after the closing date, she said. The updated resolution that adds those parties.  

• Approved a contract with Masters Touch for $6,804.93 to handle the bulk mailing of the 2022 real estate valuation notices to nearly 12,000 individuals.

The commission last week ejected a $9,3326 bid to handle the mailing because it was to high. This was the only bid the county had received.

This is an annual item and in years past, bids have been in the $6,500 range, said County Appraiser Wendy Prosser. It has been a cost savings to her department in that it would cost over $10,000 to do it in house. 

So, the quote received wouldn’t save a lot, and commissioners decided to seek a rebid.

Masters Touch, which has done the job for the past three years, missed the previous bid announcement. When contacted again, the were able to respond.

• Appointed Curtis Peterson to the Fire District Number Two Board of Trustees to represent Olmitz for an uncompensated term ending  in 2023.

Per the resolution which created the district, the board consists of not more than one appointee from each participating township and not more than one from each participating city. 

• Approved a matching funds request from the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging in the amount of $1,650.

These funds, which would be used by SWKAAA as seed dollars, are an equivalent match to the $525,225 in services received by older residents and low-income families from Barton County, said Operations Director Matt Patzner.  

The county has traditionally provided a match from the Finance General Account of the General Fund. The county set aside $1,500 in the 2022 budget, but thought the services were worth the extra $150.