Skip to main content
Some of the Kiowa County Hospital District employees dressed up in different thematic costumes during the fun week of recognition for the staff at this vital institution in Kiowa County.

Kiowa County Hospital District Updates


By Beth Bell, KCHD CEO

June 4, 2024

The Kiowa County Hospital District staff has been working hard to continue to develop and maintain excellence in our health care systems. The staff recently celebrated Hospital Week highlighting the excellence performed by their entire staff. They also welcomed a new medical doctor to the district with many patrons meeting Dr. Erik Ritch and his wife Gretel at their May 17th community barbeque. Finally, the hospital administration and board continue to work towards getting a new clinic built with a future goal of building a new hospital.

Hospital Week

The Kiowa County Hospital District spent the week of May 13th-17th celebrating National Hospital Week. What a great opportunity to recognize and honor the incredible contributions each person makes to the team and the overall health of the community, whether on the front lines or behind the scenes. Every effort made has a profound impact on the lives touched. To the healthcare workers in our community, we thank you for your unwavering dedication, professionalism, and the kindness you show to others. Together you make the Kiowa County Hospital District a place of healing, hope and compassion.

This year the hospital staff used Hospital Week as an opportunity to help raise funds to support two of their very own, Marla Darnell and Shea Johnson, as they are receiving medical treatment for cancer. The hospital has formed a committee called No One Fights Alone. This committee is employee ran that helps raise funds to supplement an employee’s income while out on major medical leave. This year the committee held a silent auction during hospital week where they auctioned off 26 impressive gift baskets. The contents of these baskets were donated by employees and local businesses with estimated donations of $4,000. The committee is deeply grateful for the generous donations, without which this event would not have been possible.

We would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the community members who participated in the silent auction and attended our hospital BBQ. Your involvement and generosity have made a significant difference, because of you we were able to raise just over $5,000 which will be split between these two individuals. The Kiowa County Hospital District is not only a great place to receive medical care, but it is also an amazing place to work!

Meet Dr. Erik Ritch and His Wife Gretel

Dr. Erik Ritch and his wife Gretel have made the move to Eads. This first month has included a lot of onboarding, orientation, and training for Dr. Ritch as he has been getting acclimated in the clinic and covering the emergency department and inpatient services. Moving forward he will be assigned to work in the clinic four days per week and will cover 10 twenty-four-hour shifts of Emergency call coverage per month.

Dr. Thorndike will provide 7 days of twenty-four-hour coverage and then the mid-levels providers will split the remaining days. When not on call, Dr. Ritch will also provide back-up support to the other providers as needed for traumas or other complicated cases. In his first rotation of calls he has already been busy saving lives (literally).

Ritch has shared that he is grateful for the support of our telemedicine services, Avel, which allows the providers and nurses the ability to connect virtually with emergency certified physicians. These providers can connect with the team inside the exam room. As such, they can see the patient, assist with documentation, assist with procedures. They can even see what our providers see when they are intubating a patient. It’s truly remarkable.

Dr. Risch has also shared that he is grateful for the quality of our nursing staff. We can tell people over and over how amazing the nursing team at KCHD is but until they experience it for themselves, they don’t truly understand. Overall, he has had a wonderful start to his work at KCHD and we are looking forward to a bright future ahead.

We had a great time taking the medical staff team over to the Eads Senior Center to meet with everyone and enjoy chicken fried steaks and introduce the community to Dr. Ritch and Dr. Thorndike. There was a huge turnout, which was fun, and we appreciated the chance to chat and answer some questions from community members. That same evening Dr. Ritch, Dr. Thorndike and I went over and had an amazing potluck dinner with the Haswell Senior Citizens. It was also a great turnout in Haswell, and we experienced lots of great conversations and had opportunities to answer questions and learn more about the needs of the community. Overall, I hope everyone knows how much we all love the community we serve, and we are so thankful for your hospitality and the trust that you put in us to meet your healthcare needs.

New Clinic

We are working with our architect team and our construction team to finalize the design documents for the new clinic. We’re also actively working with the USDA office to get all of the necessary paperwork filed for our grant funding. I’m hoping to have some renderings for all our patrons soon. As things are moving generally on scheduled, we are still planning to break ground on the new clinic in the fall of 2024.

We have hired a new grant manager, Andrea Quast. She’s actively engaged and is helping us secure additional grant dollars for this project. We should be hearing updates about some of that later next week. It’s an exciting time!

Other News