Commission supports new Ellinwood Hospital

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

“We are really lucky here in Barton County to have this type of health care,” District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said of the many options available. “It will only improve health care in Barton County.”

Kile Magner, chief executive of EDH, said they were looking to build a replacement for their existing hospital.

“Our building is 76 years old,” he said. The facility’s inability to meet current treatment needs has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the current location is tucked away at 605 North Main St. in the northwest corner of town and landlocked. “We cannot extend or add services,” he said.

Magner said they added vendors to their roster using existing space and opened an offsite pharmacy.

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

The loan would fund revenue bonds to fund the new facility, he said. The hospital’s finances were strong enough to cover them, and no tax increase would be necessary.

The hospital district is a separate entity funded by property taxes.

“The building is in poor condition,” Magner said. It does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and does not comply with fire codes.

Renovating on site would cost more than building new. “Our only option is to replace him,” he said.

From an economic perspective, HRE has a strong financial impact, Magner said. It has 104 employees, 70 of them full-time, including eight doctors.

An important asset

The establishment has a payroll of $5 million. When the jobs of employees’ family members are taken into account, that figure is around $8 million.

Additionally, it generates $2 million in retail sales and $1 million in 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 would achieve a number of goals, not the least of which is to save a lot of time and money and reduce congestion in the city, while making the institution more accessible, said Magner said.

If USDA application is accepted. Magner said they hope to break new ground this fall. The cost is estimated at $20 million and it is expected to be completed 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 company, but it’s too early to tell.

Ellinwood Hospital and Clinic is a 25-bed critical access hospital and rural health clinic.

Aurora J. William