In an interesting turn of events, the Independent learned late last week that Keefe Memorial Hospital in Cheyenne Wells is directly benefiting from the resignations of two former Eads Medical Clinic providers. Federal Healthcare Services (FHS), Keefe’s contracted provider staffing agency owned by Dr. Mark Bolton, a resident doctor at Keefe Memorial, has enlisted both Jessica Hyman and Michael Archer as healthcare contractors who will each be doing 3–7-day rotations at Keefe Memorial Hospital in Cheyenne Wells.
It is no surprise to those that have been paying attention that the Kiowa County Hospital District (KCHD) located in Eads has struggled to keep and maintain trained staff. It is also no surprise that over the course of the last year the KCHD Board of Directors has also struggled internally with working as a cohesive group to make decisions that will benefit the communities they rely on.
To recap, over the course of 2021 the KCHD lost three highly popular and well-trained providers including Dawn Back, Jessica Hyman and Michael Archer.
While we do not know the motive behind Dawn Back’s resignation, it was not long after that the Independent’s research revealed there were major issues of concern with the KCHD Board as well as within the faculty.
Soon after the Independent began investigating and reporting on the situation within the district, Jessica Hyman also submitted her resignation citing the fact that she and her family decided it would be in their best interest to move and pursue their options elsewhere.
During the time before Hyman left, it was indicated to the public that she would continue to see patients one weekend a month, in order to alleviate some of the hassle her regular patients were having in establishing care with another provider. This, however, did not come to light. Further, it was not revealed the reasons behind Hyman’s expected yet abrupt departure. Her final descent came with no warning prior to her last day working at the Eads Medical Clinic.
Months later, the community was shocked again when news broke that Michael Archer resigned his position effective immediately and was no longer seeing patients at the clinic or hospital. Archer’s exit was quick and left much speculation for the members of the community who not only pay taxes that directly benefit the district, but to the patients who rely on the care of our providers to guide them in maintaining their health.
Through investigation, attending meetings and holding interviews, the Kiowa County Independent reported that the quick departure of both Hyman and Archer boiled down to the internal issues that the KCHD Board was facing.
The resignation of those providers, who not only were trained and gave superior quality care to their patients, but also immersed themselves and their families into the community and became a part of the small-town life that we all know and love, was deeply felt.
Their departure left newly hired Morgan King, a freshly graduated and certified PA, as the only provider for KCHD. With little experience but a wealth of knowledge and determination, King had the weight of the community on her back as she saw patients all day, for many weeks on her own, while the administrative team worked to find other providers to step in and lend a helping hand. King was eventually joined by another young and inexperienced, but professional, provider named Abby Huff. Although young and acclimating themselves to the community, King and Huff showed true grit within that time frame as they were passionately professional in order to provide healthcare to the patients of KCHD.
Which brings us to the Federal Healthcare Services contract that has hired two of the popular providers Eads had been saddened to lose among all the chaos of the last year.
Dr. Bolton told the Independent, “I’m here to stay.” He was speaking about his role in Cheyenne Wells and the responsibility he feels now to the community there. Bolton also has admiration and hope for KCHD as he sees the future being bright if a cohesive and steadfast board is elected in May.
“I do not want anyone to think that by Jessica and Michael working with us that we feel we have won a battle between two hospitals; however, they are great providers who truly miss the Eads community and are excited to be able to see some of their old patients again here at Keefe.”
Dr. Bolton tells us that the workload at Keefe Memorial has doubled in the last few months. Where they once were able to cover the load with one provider, they now require two providers 24-7.
KCHD still works with Docs Who Care (DWC), a staffing agency that brings doctors or physician assistants in on a rotating schedule to help with the workload. While they appear to be doing a fine job, at the last KCHD Board meeting, Edward with DWC attended via Zoom and gave an overview of their services. It was noted during this overview that provider schedules which should be done 90 days in advance are only currently available 16 days in advance due to fluctuations in staffing.
Docs Who Care is trying to keep the same providers in rotation in order to promote a consistency in care and less confusion for the providers and for KCHD staff. Docs Who Care has, for some time, provided an annual scholarship to any student interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare industry. While unable to confirm the terms of the contract that KCHD has with Docs Who Care, the obvious action of people is to speculate whether or not the same issues would continue to occur if KCHD would instead partner with Dr. Bolton’s FHS group.
In a unanimous vote at the January 25, 2022 KCHD Board of Directors Meeting, Jeanette Filipi was hired as interim CEO of KCHD for a 6-month period as the district assesses and looks for a permanent CEO. Since her acquisition there have been many changes to the day-to-day operations as well to the staffing at the Eads Medical Clinic and Hospital.
Filipi told the Independent that there will be a facelift of the interior of the clinic in order to make things flow more privately for patients. A new clinic manager, Shaelynn Compton was hired recently as well as a new Director of Nursing, Rachel Bletzacker. Both are working together and within both the clinic and the hospital to make a more cohesive unit.
Since the last KCHD meeting, the Independent has confirmed with the new KCHD interim CEO Jeanette Filipi that board member Kevin Davis has submitted his letter of resignation to the board of directors. In his letter of resignation Davis states, “It is my fear that our hospital has some very challenging times ahead. The largest concern is that its board of selected and trusted members is completely dysfunctional and incapable of moving forward. The board’s number one priority should be that of its patients and employees. I have called Kiowa County home my entire life and will continue to do so for years to come as this is our home. I hope that those seeking control are capable of handling these challenges for us lifelong residents who rely on the hospital and the services it provides.”
The KCHD will be holding an election in May, via mail-in ballot. Last week the ballot for said election was certified stating that Ken Flory, Matt Prince, Karl Eikenberg, Doug Uhland, Pam Cole, and Junior McDowell will each be running for a seat on the board.
Ken Flory is the only current member of the board that is running for re-election for his seat on the board meaning that other than board member Mary Eikner who has not yet reached the limit of her term there will be 3 or possibly 4 new members to this board.
Will the fresh eyes of a new Board of Directors help revive the Kiowa County Hospital District from its anguish? Can a new perspective be all that it takes to set the district on the right course for a successful future? And can the possibility of a new facility be more than a pipe dream but, rather, a reality?