Cushing Hospital building being donated to county

John Richmeier
The former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building is being donated to the Leavenworth County government.

The former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building is being donated to the Leavenworth County government.

"This is a big deal for us," County Commission Chairman Doug Smith said. "We will be good stewards of it."

Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to accept the donation of the former hospital building. County Administrator Mark Loughry said commissioners will vote on a formal donation agreement next week.

Commissioners have not announced any official plans for the building, which is located in Leavenworth. But Smith said potential uses include existing county services, expanding services for youth and the aging population, expanding available health services and offering space to non-profit organizations and other organizations.

Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital closed earlier this month.

Officials with Saint Luke’s Health System cited the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as being responsible for the decision to close the hospital.

Cushing Hospital was established in 1894 by Harriet Cushing.

Representatives of the hospital and the hospital's foundation were on hand for Wednesday's County Commission meeting.

"We feel this would be a good use for that property as we vacate it," said Adele Ducharme, chief executive officer for the hospital.

Smith said county commissioners are committed to making certain the legacy of Harriet Cushing will continue by using the building that bears her name to serve Leavenworth County.

Smith thanked County Commissioner Vicky Kaaz for working to arrange the donation on behalf of the entire commission.

Kaaz expressed thanks to Blaine Weeks, a member of the board of the hospital's foundation.

Smith said there is no way the county could have ever afforded to pay to construct a building of that size.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said one of his goals as a commissioner has been for the county to stop paying rent for the Council on Aging. The county government currently leases the building that serves as the home of the Council on Aging.

Culbertson and Smith said the county can move a lot more into the former hospital building than just Council on Aging.

Loughry said the building has close to 100,000 square feet. He said some of the space can be used for only storage.

"It's still a huge building," he said.

Smith suggested commissioners have a work session to discuss future uses of the building.

Loughry said commissioners need to have an in-depth discussion about uses of the facility.

He said the county has some internal uses. But he said outside agencies that receive funding from the county also may be able to use space in the building.

Loughry said some improvements to the building may be needed. He said the building is a multi-million facility. Regardless of the cost of the improvements, he said the building still presents a great opportunity for the county.

He said there are still a few things that need to be taken care of, including an environmental study, before the donation becomes effective.

He said the county probably will not take possession of the building until the end of November.

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Adele Ducharme, chief executive officer of Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital, speaks Wednesday during a meeting of the Leavenworth County Commission. The former Cushing Hospital building is being donated to the county government.