Kansas hospital leader reports missed payroll

Horton (Kansas) Community Hospital has struggled to pay utilities, missed payroll and operated with  insufficient supplies, a top hospital leader told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Hospital CNO Krissy Torkelson reported that the 25-bed critical access facility in recent months has lacked funds for patient medication, supplies and food. At the end of last year she negotiated with the city to keep the lights on, and nurses and other employees weren't paid Feb. 1, she also revealed.

Hospital CEO Ty Compton, in an email obtained by the Capital-Journal, said the paycheck issue was due to an accounting glitch in transferring funds between bank accounts.

Horton Community Hospital is managed by Kansas City, Mo.-based EmpowerHMS, which also operates hospitals in Tennessee and Oklahoma. Other hospitals managed by the company have struggled financially. Hillsboro (Kan.) Community Hospital nearly had its power shut off due to unpaid utility bills. And several Oklahoma and Tennessee hospitals, including Fairfax (Okla.) Community Hospital, reported that they were behind on payroll.

The  financial struggles come as Empower is under investigation for lab testing billing practices, according to the Capital-Journal.

Mr. Compton told the publication last month that the Horton facility was stable. He said at the time, "We had one paycheck, I think, that was delayed one day, maybe two days. To my understanding, our utility bills are current."

But Ms. Torkelson's recent comments indicate uncertainty and instability in operations.

"We didn't have any money in an account for food, so they've been having to clean out our freezers for our patients. Our utilities were shut off to our business office. We have an accounts payable list that's close to $1 million of just different vendors that we owe. And we've been cut off from like Medline for supplies. We can't order for our pharmacy," she told the Capital-Journal.

The Capital-Journal reported that it could not reach Mr. Compton Feb. 2 for comment.

Access the Capital-Journal's full report here.


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