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Kansas community hospital to close home health agency; public health officials voice concern

Hiawatha (Kansas) Community Hospital announced it will close its Home Health Agency by April 30, immediately sparking concern from Kansas public health officials, according to Hiawatha World.

The hospital's decision to cease home health services derived from regulatory and financial barriers set by Medicare that made the sustainability of the program improbable, hospital officials told Hiawatha World.

"It is with a heavy heart and after significant consideration, Hiawatha Community Hospital will no longer continue to offer home health services to the consumers of Brown County and the surrounding areas," said Jeff Shelton, CEO of Hiawatha Community Hospital. "This decision is directly related to the regulatory and financial barriers set by Medicare, which limits the hospital's ability to financially sustain a hospital based home health program."

The imminent closure immediately drew concern from local health officials. Kristin Watkins, Northeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department CEO, believes this will place a greater burden on the already-overloaded Home Health Care Department.

Ms. Watkins said the closure may cause the department to absorb the hospital's home-health patients and noted the department doesn't have the funds nor proper staff level to take care of these patients.

To mitigate the lack of funds and potential patient volume increase, Ms. Watkins is asking for Brown County to provide some funding to the department.

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