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Rural Hospital Abruptly Shuts Down, No Notice, Amid Coronavirus Spread

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As coronavirus continues to spread in Kansas, having taken its first casualty on Thursday, a rural hospital abruptly shut its doors, firing all its staff, with no notice to the small town it served.

Sumner Community Hospital in Wellington, Kansas shut its doors on Thursday night, firing its employees, and posting a notice on the entrance advising those seeking treatment to call emergency services.

The Topeka-Capital Journal reports that the hospital closed after years of financial struggles and lack of support from physicians in the rural community:

Management for the hospital abruptly closed the doors Thursday, citing years of financial struggle exacerbated by a lack of support from local physicians.

“People have unrealistic expectations,” Taton said. “People have to wait for an hour because their back hurts or they have a scratch, then complain on social media even though we were doing CPR on someone’s grandma in the next room or intubating someone with a drug overdose.”

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Cindy West, the hospital’s CEO, said the closing was completed “in an orderly fashion” to ensure patients were transferred to appropriate care facilities. Employees received pay and benefits for all hours worked, she said.

“We have tried so hard to save our local hospital and know that this is heartbreaking for our community,” West said. “As time has passed, it became obvious that the ability to overcome the challenges we faced was impossible.”

The nearest hospital for Wellington residents is likely in Wichita, Kansas, the state’s largest city, with nearly 400,000 residents and another 200,000 in its metropolitan area.

Also on Thursday night, Wichita confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a man in his 70s who had gone on a Caribbean cruise.

Additionally, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly confirmed the first coronavirus death in Kansas, a man, also in his 70s, who died in a nursing home.

It is unclear how the closing of the rural hospital may impact the treatment of future coronavirus patients in Kansas and in the state’s highest population city.

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