Confirming widespread speculation, it was announced Tuesday that if a buyer for Topeka’s St. Francis Health Care was not found by the end of April, the hospital would be closed.
According to a news release from Denver-based SCL Health, the company would cease operating the hospital this summer “with or without another operator.”
SCL Health is a faith-based, non-profit organizations that owns St. Francis and 11 other hospitals in Kansas, Colorado and Montana.
The release came after a meeting Tuesday with SCL officials and hospital staff.
CEO Mike Sublowski says the decision to abandon St. Francis was “one of the most difficult” SCL has made, but ultimately determined that the hospital was no longer sustainable.
Shortly after SCL’s public announcement, Stormont Vail Health stated its intentions to take over St. Francis.
“But that doesn’t diminish the legacy of more than a century of service to this community or prevent another modified role in the future,” stated Sublowski. “We have been in conversations [Monday] and [Tuesday] with [Kansas Gov. Sam] Brownback, the Chamber [of Commerce] and other local providers about possible solutions to sustain St. Francis. We are hopeful and will know something more definite by the first week in May.”
During those discussions, Stormont Vail agreed to evaluate ways to keep the hospital open.
“The care we provide has not and is not determined by our competition, but by our desire to do what is best for the communities we serve. And now, more than ever, our community needs us,” said Randy Peterson, Stormont Vail Health president and chief executive officer. “We are prepared to step forward to help keep services open and operational at St. Francis.”
If a deal is finalized, Stormont says the transition “will not happen overnight,” adding that efforts will be made to minimize disruption in health care service to patients.
Details over transition talks have not been released, but SCL Health has stated its willingness to donate St. Francis to a new operating organization.
Stormont Vail Health’s 586-bed acute care hospital is located two blocks away from St. Francis. The integrated health care system consists of the hospital, Cotton O’Neil Clinic and a network of specialty clinics and physicians’ offices.
An anonymous source sent WIBW News Now a screenshot of an email sent Tuesday by Stormont Vail Health CEO Randy Peterson echoes statements made in the press release.