PITTSBURG — Although two other troubled Kansas hospitals once operated by North Kansas City, Missouri-based Empower HMS — Horton Community Hospital and Hillsboro Community Hospital — may eventually reopen under new management or at least be able to provide medical records to their former patients and employees, those hoping for a similar resolution at the closed Oswego Community Hospital in Labette County may have no such luck.
Oswego Deputy City Clerk Renee Cochran said Wednesday that she knew of no plans for the Oswego hospital to reopen under receivership of any government agency or a different management company, or for records from the hospital to be made available.
“They’re definitely not going to open again,” Cochran said.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for the Kansas Attorney General confirmed the AG’s office was investigating Oswego Community Hospital. While the AG’s office is also reportedly investigating Horton Community Hospital in northeast Kansas, according to Topeka TV station WIBW the Horton hospital, now under trusteeship, partially reopened with limited staff this week. The hospital is not open to the public “but a skeleton crew is inside answering phones and retrieving medical records,” according to the station. “The skeleton crew is part of the first phase in getting the hospital up and running again.”
A Marion County judge, meanwhile, reportedly appointed a receiver to operate Hillsboro Community Hospital in January. While that hospital declared bankruptcy earlier this month, it reportedly remained open and was serving patients as of last week.
While Oswego Community Hospital, like the other two formerly EmpowerHMS-run Kansas hospitals, has reportedly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, unlike those other two it has shown no signs of reopening under a trustee or receivership arrangement.
Although Oswego Community Hospital may not reopen, medical provider Labette Health plans to soon open a temporary clinic in Oswego, according to Kerri Beardmore, the company's marketing director, and a permanent Oswego facility at a later date.
“Labette Health has yet to receive any records from Oswego Community Hospital,” Beardmore wrote in an email Wednesday, but the clinic nonetheless still plans to open April 1.
A call to a number formerly associated with EmpowerHMS, which now answers as Rural Community Hospitals of America, was not returned by press time Wednesday. A number formerly associated with Miami, Florida-based iHealthcare, which announced a deal to take over management of several former EmpowerHMS hospitals earlier this year, now answers as Unisource Discovery, described on its website as “a revered legal vendor, specializing in Digital Document Retrieval and Service of Process.”
EmpowerHMS, Rural Community Hospitals of America, and iHealthcare all have ties to Miami businessman Jorge Perez. Unisource Discovery was formed in 2009 by iHealthcare CEO Noel Mijares, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which also state that Mijares “became a thought leader and well-published author” in Unisource Discovery’s area of business.
The Kansas Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday and has not explained the nature of its investigation into the Oswego and Horton hospitals in detail. Earlier this month, however, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cut off I-70 Community Hospital in Sweet Springs, Missouri — another facility formerly run by EmpowerHMS — from its Medicare program because the hospital failed to comply with federal regulations and had deficiencies “so serious they constitute an immediate threat to patient health and safety.”