Archive for Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Clinic negotiations making progress

December 31, 2003

There's no formal announcement yet, but a community effort has apparently saved local health care access in De Soto.

Kathleen McInnis, practice administrator for the Mid America Physicians Group, said her west Shawnee clinic and Hospital Corporation of America Inc. were engaged in promising talks that could have Mid America reopening the De Soto practice at the start of February.

"We hope so," she said. "It's not finished yet. It's in our interest, and it appears to be in their interest."

Good-faith negotiations continued, McInnis said, but the deal's complexity and the holidays appeared to have delayed an agreement beyond HCA's announced Dec. 31 closing of the De Soto clinic.

Notices were posted at the clinic Monday informing patients of the negotiations and the availability of services at Mid America's clinic at Shawnee Crossing, near Shawnee Mission Parkway and Kansas Highway 7.

Early this month, HCA informed the five-member staff of De Soto Family Practice that the clinic would be closed with the departure of Dr. Dean Smith at the end of the year. De Soto Family Practice was one of many properties HCA acquired early this year as part of its acquisition of Health Midwest assets.

With that news, Darrel Zimmerman and De Soto Multi-Service Center Coordinator Jodi Hitchcock organized a task force that included themselves, Mayor Dave Anderson, City Administrator Greg Johnson, City Attorney Patrick Reavey, De Soto Chamber of Commerce Director Sara Ritter, pharmacist Lori Murdock and Hillside Village owner Bob Haynes.

The task force members first sought to recruit a new doctor for the clinic but shifted their efforts to finding a new health care service provider when an HCA official informed Anderson that De Soto was no longer in the company's business plan. The mayor also sought and got HCA officials' assurances that they would work with other providers interested in the clinic.

Charley Vogt, next year's De Soto Economic Council chairman, said he introduced Mid America representatives to the committee earlier this month when he learned of the clinic's closing.

"My hat's off to the mayor and economic development official in the health care task force for first going out to find a doctor and then working with groups to retain a clinic," he said. "It would have been devastating if De Soto no longer had a clinic."

Anderson said he was pleased that progress was being made.

"It was a tough problem," he said. "It's good a group of community, city and business representatives could work together to get this accomplished."

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