To the editor:

Leavenworth County is facing a medical crisis. With the significant reduction in services planned by St. Luke’s Cushing Hospital and transition to a community hospital model, Leavenworth County will be in the same situation as many small Kansas towns out west. 

This means that no child will have Leavenworth on their birth certificate. The elderly will have to travel at least 40 minutes to visit their loved ones after surgery, for visitations and self care. I’m sure everyone should be very excited about having elderly drivers out on the roads in the dark.

I was glad to hear the other day that the 3D mammography machine will remain at Cushing. The funds were raised by many in the community through the Cushing Foundation. Had they removed it, I was going to ask for my money back.

Many of the services we enjoy will no longer be available.  Women’s OBGYN, lab work and ICU support are just some of the services they are “referring to St Luke’s North.” For more than a year, I have been able to schedule my oncology visits close to home. Recently, I received a nice letter telling me the service will be discontinued.  

My husband and I have spent more time than usual at Cushing this year. We have been helped by friendly and compassionate administrative staff and medical professionals – 145 of these folks are losing their jobs as of Dec. 1, just in time for Christmas. This is one of the largest layoffs we have experienced in our community in some time and it will impact our economy, families, friends and neighbors. 

Cushing Hospital has been servicing our community for more than 100 years and was one of the four fully functional hospitals here in Leavenworth when I arrived in 1973. Together with Munson Army Medical Center, the VA and Saint John Hospital, the community was well taken care of. Now we have significantly more residents than we had back then. We are being told it is no longer cost effective to provide full service to our community. Of course that is not exactly what St. Luke’s management is saying, but this will definitely inconvenience a large portion of their faithful patients. We can all expect to pay a lot more for transportation to get the services we need. Make sure your health insurance covers ambulance rides.

Eighteen years ago, St. Luke’s, in their effort to expand into the greater Kansas City area, took over Cushing Hospital. They expended millions of dollars to upgrade the facilities and bring the hospital into the 21st century. We now stand on the brink of having no local surgery services, no colonoscopies, no joint replacements, no minor same day surgery, no births. 

It might be all about the money to St. Luke’s management team, but it’s a huge inconvenience to residents.