Closed hospital to become ER

Jeff Guy
The former hospital's main entrance will serve as the single point for all patients except for those arriving via EMS. Photo by Jeff Guy

The city of Wellington’s recent agreement with Ascension Via Christi to place an emergency room in the vacated Sumner Community Hospital will make it possible to treat patients locally who would otherwise be transported, Wellington Fire/EMS Chief Tim Hay said.

“There’s quite a few patients that could be treated and evaluated locally that wouldn’t have to be taken to Wichita, Winfield or Derby,” Hay said. “They get to choose what hospital they go to within reason.”

The City of Wellington, which owns the approximately 50-year-old hospital facility, has approved $700K in the capital improvements needed to renovate the space that will house the ER and associated services. Part of that funding will come from the city's Health Care Authority and the SRMC Endowment.

The ER is scheduled to be open in early 2021.

Without the hospital, which closed in March, “it’s a lot more miles on our EMS trucks,” Hay said. “We spend a lot more time on the road with people.”

The department did not expect the hospital to close, when making its 2020 budget, Hay said.

“We made adjustments for the 2021 budget,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be in good shape.”

When the hospital was in the city, EMS had supplies available there, Hay said. The hospital used to get rid of biohazardous material for EMS. Now, EMS buys supplies through private vendors and contracts with a company to remove biohazardous material.

Many people will be able to be treated and released when the ER is open, Hay said.

Under the agreement approved by the Wellington City Council, the ER will re-open in early 2021 as a department of Ascension Via Christi Hospitals Wichita, Inc., which is the legal entity that operates Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph.

The former hospital's main entrance will serve as the single point of entry for all patients except for those arriving via EMS. The ER will have four exam rooms and a triage area, plus a trauma room just inside the EMS entrance.

It also will have limited on-site imaging, laboratory and a hospital pharmacy, which are the basic support services required by a hospital ER.

Wellington City Manager Shane Shields was quoted in a press release: "We appreciate Ascension Via Christi's willingness to step in and address the needs of our community. Our collaboration with Ascension will mean that emergency care will be locally available, which will reduce the inconvenience and cost to citizens of EMS transports to hospitals in other cities in many emergency situations."