City asked for non-competitive clause for Pratt acute care facility now under construction

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Pratt Regional Medical Center is in the process of establishing an acute care facility in Pratt, located on east First Street, with plans to be open for business in June 2021.

Pratt city commissioners have taken under advisement a request by Pratt Regional Medical Center administrators to pass an ordinance that would preclude outside competition to the PRMC’s new Urgent Care & Health Center facility at 1600 East First Street, currently under construction with a target opening date of June 1.

Pratt Regional Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Page and Amanda Vandervoort, director of health information management and clinic information technology for PRMC, addressed commissioners at their regular meeting, Monday, April 19 at City Hall Commission Chambers.

Mayor Gary Schmidt presided with commissioners Zach Deeds, Jeanette Siemens, Don Peters and Kyle Farmer all in attendance.

“We feel we have some  compelling reasons why we’re asking the commission to consider for some kind of resolution or ordinance that would preclude an outside entity from coming in and putting in the services that will be provided by Urgent Care and Health Center,” Page said.

Page referred to similar existing ordinances passed in 2004 by both the City of Newton and the City of North Newton.

“You have a precedence that has been set in the state of Kansas,” Page said.

Vandervoort reviewed services that will be provided by the new urgent care facility which she said will provide services to a catchment area of about 15,000, encompassing Medicine Lodge, Greensburg, Haviland and Kingman.

“We think our area supports one, not two,” Vandervoort said. “Our goal is not to eliminate competition—it’s to serve our community in the best way we can.’

Commissioner Don Peters, recently retired as member of the PRMC board of directors, supported the request.

“It would hurt our community if we allowed another urgent care to come in,” Peters said.

“PRMC is the driving force of this community, Peters said. “Whatever takes away from PRMC, in my opinion, hurts our community because it’s taking away from (the hospital) being in the black to maybe not being in the black.”

Currently, PRMC does not receive tax revenue, Peters said, adding that mill levy support from Pratt taxpayers might be necessary if the hospital’s financial circumstances were affected by a second urgent care option in Pratt.

“It’s something we need to protect,” Commissioner Siemens said regarding PRMC.

“I’m looking at the other side,” Mayor Schmidt said. “We have to do that. What kind of precedent would we be setting?”

“I think we have some legality issues with that,” City Attorney Regina Goff advised commissioners. “I promise that whatever we do, we’ll do it legally,” Goff said.

Mayor Schmidt suggested the Pratt Area Economic Development Commission should also be apprised of the request for their input.

“We have to look at all ends of it so we’re not cutting somebody out down the line that we didn’t intend to,” Mayor Schmidt said.

In the open agenda portion of the April 19 meeting, Pratt resident Michael Flores addressed commissioners about a felony case in which he is involved in, as well as several Pratt police officers.

“Out of an abundance of precaution, we advise commissioners not to participate in the conversation, as it may interfere with the open case.” Mayor Schmidt said.

He also said that, at the conclusion of Flores’ three-minute address, Pratt Police Chief Nate Humble could address city commissioners if he so chose and that a copy of Flores’ request would be forwarded to Chief Humble for his file.

Flores said his purpose in addressing commissioners was to request a formal investigation of four police officers, stemming from an incident he said involved his minor child.

Flores said he wanted to state for the record that he has had “a very bad vibe situation” from the investigating Pratt Police Department officers.

There was no response from Chief Humble or any of the commissioners after Florers’ address.

Also addressing city commissioners during the open agenda segment was Doug Meyer who updated commissioners on Pratt Area Economic Development Commission activities, which included a request for financial assistance  for a spa that will be located adjacent to the Barron Theatre.

“It was really encouraging to see them all excited and enthusiastic about their business,” Meyer said.

Meyer also made reference to another potential business that is considering coming to Pratt in the fall but did not elaborate on what that business might be.

“Quite a substantial business,” Meyer said. “It would be a major addition to our community and it would really solidify us as a regional draw.”

Meyer also reported on a grant to Heavy Metal, 511 Pedigo Drive, which he said is employing more people and processing more product.