Horton Community Hospital closes doors after weeks of speculation

HORTON, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Horton Community Hospital closed its doors for the final time at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The move had been rumored for weeks with reports of unpaid bills and unpaid employees.

"We haven’t been paid for about six weeks,” Linda Jerome, an employee since 1966, said. “Some of us are getting over drafts from banks and it’s not our fault.”

The closure of the hospital leaves the town without a hospital that provides emergency care.

“It’s just like a funeral,” Jerome said. “We're just hanging around this afternoon just like a wake or something."

Empower MHS transferred ownership of the hospital to iHealthcare in February.

Mayor Bryan Stirton said the closing will have a big impact on the community.

"The businesses are going to be impacted, these families, the employees,” Stirton said. “I commend them dearly for staying as long as they have without pay and if they're forced to move out of town to find other jobs, it's going to impact our school district as well."

13 NEWS also obtained a copy of an alert sent by the State Board of EMS. It states Horton’s EMS service was part of the hospital. The closure means the city will now receive ambulance services from Town and Country EMS out of Hiawatha.

Hiawatha, about 13 miles away, also is now the closest hospital.

Jerome said the patients were like family to her and her coworkers and staff did everything they could to stay open.

"It’s not the hospitals fault,” Jerome said. “That’s what everyone needs to understand. It’s not our fault, it’s not the community's fault. We've done everything we could do."

The pharmacy inside the hospital, Kex Rx, will remain open according to a pharmacy employee.

The hospital employed an estimated 40 to 50 people.

The Kansas Attorney General's Office said it has an ongoing investigation into Horton Community Hospital, but will not comment any further on it.