Augusta (Kan.) Regional Medical Center, which shuts down its emergency room and outpatient program at 6 p.m. today, has hired the Schuster Group, Oklahoma, to devise a way to save the hospital, including a possible purchase by the consulting firm. The hospital closed its 40 acute-care beds in July after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2001. At the time of the filing, officials said they hoped to reorganize the hospital as a critical-access facility. About 20 miles east of Wichita in Butler County, Augusta Regional has lost money in eight of the past 10 years. For months, it had been discussing a possible deal with 82-bed Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital, El Dorado, Kan., the only other hospital in the county. Susan B. Allen in May offered to buy the hospital for an undisclosed sum, but in August Susan B. Allen withdrew its interest after the Augusta Regional requested a higher purchase price, a Susan B. Allen spokesman said. At deadline, Augusta Regional Administrator Darryl Thornton was involved in the hospital's final business and unavailable for comment. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Kan. hospital closes but still hopes for savior
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