GARNETT, Kan.-Anderson County Hospital in Garnett has signed a letter of intent to join St. Luke's Health System of Kansas City, Mo. The 66-bed county hospital, about 75 miles southwest of Kansas City, has been operating at a small loss for all but one of the last seven years. Its directors thought it needed a financially strong partner to survive. As a county facility, it would be extremely difficult to sell the hospital outright, said Administrator James K. Johnson. Under the 10-year agreement, St. Luke's will manage the hospital for the county for the first two years, leaving the current administration in place. After that, it will lease it for eight years and can bring in its own administrators. The hospital board of directors, appointed by the county commissioners, will continue to oversee the physical plant and major equipment. Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. approached the rural hospital about a year ago and asked to make a presentation to the board. At that time Columbia was aggressively expanding into eastern Kansas. However, Columbia withdrew at the last moment and has made no further contact. St. Luke's will pay the board 3% of net operating revenues as lease payment. In 1994 Anderson County Hospital had revenues of $5 million and lost about $90,000. It averaged 2.8 acute-care patients a day and receives $220,000 a year in county tax money. It chose to ally with St. Luke's because it refers many patients, particularly cardiac cases, to St. Luke's Hospital, the system's 650-bed tertiary-care facility in Kansas City. The system also includes two smaller hospitals in the suburbs north of Kansas City; Crittenton behavioral health center in Kansas City; and Wright Memorial Hospital in Trenton, Mo.