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Clinic may stay if Herington link severed

Staff writer

A clinic in Hillsboro operated by Herington Municipal Hospital is closing — or not — depending on who you listen to and when.

The hospital announced Jan. 7 that it would close the clinic at the end of April, blaming federal legislation that reduced the amount of money paid by Medicare.

The announcement that the clinic would close came just days after a Herington man filed a lawsuit in Dickinson County District Court alleging the hospital had not complied with legal obligations when it expanded into Hillsboro.

A month later, the hospital announced in a full page advertisement in the Marion County Record it would keep the clinic open until legislators “correct” a late December law that capped Medicare payments.

Chief financial officer Bryan Coffey said he’d heard there had been “an outpouring of calls to congressmen and senators” and he thought the December law would be changed.

As recently as last week’s edition, a Dickinson County newspaper quoted Herington Hospital’s chief executive officer Isabel Schmiedemann saying the hospital had not deviated from its Jan. 7 resolution to close the clinic.

Schmiedemann’s statements to that newspaper might be accurate. Last week a moving van was parked in front of the clinic, with medical equipment being loaded into it.

Construction workers said the equipment was merely being moved elsewhere for storage during renovation work on the building.

Schmiedemann was formerly employed by a hospital operated by EmpowerHMS, the company that owned Hillsboro Community Hospital before HCH was put into receivership two years ago. Ultimately HCH declared bankruptcy.

She was CEO of Fulton County Memorial Hospital in Fulton, Missouri, when EmpowerHMS principals were investigated for insurance fraud and several indicted on federal charges.

Coffey was CEO of Hamilton County Hospital at Syracuse before he was fired by the hospital’s board of directors in 2015 because of “financial anomalies.”

In a Feb. 11 letter to Herington city commissioners, the hospital’s board of directors asked the city to sign off on an agreement transferring city ownership of the hospital to “an independent not-for-profit Kansas corporation.”

“This will include a formal end to any contribution in the form of sales and ad valorem taxes from the public to the hospital,” the letter states.

Last modified Feb. 24, 2021

 

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