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OpEd: Manhattan hospital president responds to partnership

bob copple hospital president ascenson via christi manhattan

I have been the president of Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan for 3 ½ years. During this time, I can honestly say that I have never been in any official conversations with Manhattan Surgical Hospital regarding possible partnerships or acquisitions. In addition, to my knowledge no other Ascension Via Christi leaders have been approached to discuss it either. The last time Manhattan Surgical Hospital leaders approached any of our hospital leaders about a possible partnership was more than seven years ago when the hospital was still Mercy Regional Health Center and owned in partnership with the Memorial Hospital Association. Fast forward to 2019 when rather than talking to Ascension Via Christi’s current leadership, Manhattan Surgical Hospital chose to divert community healthcare dollars and patients outside our community.

There is a distinct difference in the mission and operations of Manhattan Surgical Hospital and Ascension Via Christi. As a hospital leader for a not-for-profit, faith-based health ministry, I recognize today’s need to align with community partners. We must do so to remain viable and sustain our ability to provide round-the-clock services close to home.

In our last fiscal year alone, we provided more than $13 million in charity care in our community. Those are your friends, family and neighbors who are receiving this care. As your full-service, community hospital, and one of the top two private employers in Manhattan, we play a vital role in our community’s overall health providing:

  • Much needed services not offered at a limited service surgical hospital – services such as labor and delivery, walk-in emergency care, human trafficking and sexual assault response, behavioral health, cardiac rehab and more
  • Care for patients who need surgery but who have no means to pay
  • Care when the surgical hospital has closed for the day – nights, weekends, holidays
  • Care for medically-fragile patients whose care should be provided in a full-service hospital

In the past two years, Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan has invested more than $3 million in market increases and pay raises for our 500 employed associates; our annual payroll and benefit costs for the past year totaled $34.3 million. Over the past five years, Ascension Via Christi has invested close to $30 million back into the hospital and community.

Whenever possible, we keep our patients here in Manhattan for care close to home in partnership with our independent community physicians. The revenue generated from caring for our patients in Manhattan is needed to sustain our mission of caring for you, your family, friends and neighbors and to reinvest in the growth of services we provide you.

About Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Ascension Via Christi in Fort Scott and Wamego Health Center. She is a proud wife and mom and loves cooking, camping and spending time outdoors, her dogs and reading.