Place-based stories about the often painful cracks in the American health system that leave people frustrated and without the care they need. Hosted by investigative journalist Sarah Jane Tribble, the podcast is a production of Kaiser Health News and St. Louis Public Radio.
It Is What It Is – Chapter 1
Midwesterners aren’t known for complaining. But after Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed, hardship trickled down to people whose lives were already hard. Pat Wheeler has emphysema. Her husband, Ralph, has end-stage kidney failure, and the couple are barely making ends meet as they raise their teenage grandson. Pat is angry with hospital executives who she said yanked a lifeline from residents. “They took more than a hospital from us,” she said.
The Good Captain – Chapter 2
Closing a hospital hurts. In Fort Scott, Kansas, no one was a bigger symbol for that loss — or bigger target for the town’s anger — than hospital president Reta Baker. Reta was at the helm when the doors closed at Mercy Hospital, putting her at bitter odds with City Manager Dave Martin, who some in town call “the Little Trump” of Fort Scott. He says his town wasn’t given the chance to keep the hospital open.
Tragedy Is Going to Happen – Chapter 3
Emergency care gets complicated after a hospital closes. On a cold February evening, when Robert Findley falls and hits his head on a patch of ice and his wife, Linda, calls for 911, the delays that come next expose the frayed patchwork that sometimes stands in for rural health care.
Dedicated to Suffering Humanity – Chapter 4
For more than 100 years, Mercy Hospital — and the nuns who started it all — cared for local people in Fort Scott, Kansas. Town historian Fred Campbell says Mercy was part of the town’s DNA since its booming rail town days. But in recent years, Fort Scott’s economy and the hospital’s finances faltered. Locals say Mercy went “corporate.” We carry that claim to Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, the powerhouse who consolidated all the Mercy hospitals in the Midwest.
Poppyseed Bread, Orange Glaze and Chemo – Chapter 5
Sixty-five-year-old Karen Endicott-Coyan is living with a blood cancer and she needs frequent chemotherapy. Before Mercy Hospital closed, she got her cancer care right in town. These days getting to chemo means a long trek on rural roads and narrow highways. The stress and frustration of traveling illuminates one reason cancer death rates are higher in rural America.
What I Was Raised And Taught To Do – Chapter 6
Trickle-down heartache reaches the next generation in a rural town with no hospital. Meet Josh. He’s a teenager in Fort Scott, Kansas, who dropped out of high school around the same time Mercy Hospital closed. He says those two things are related. The podcast also spotlights new health services now available in town. Mercy did not provide addiction or behavioral health services, but the new community health center in town does.
Great podcast about the plight of small hospital
Really enjoyed the Sarah’s style of narrating and interviewing. The subject matter is close to home here in Mexico, Mo where our hospital is closed snd trying to restructure.
Great informative and human story podcast
Would love to know if/when the second season is starting. Such an important topic to be talking about in America right now.
Great job at capturing the inequalities experienced by rural America
You did a wonderful job at highlighting rural americas cry for access to healthcare, while showing why limitations to quality health and hospitals exist. Thank you for capturing this story, it has been very inspiring and wakening to my knowledge of healthcare in various parts of America, especially as an international resident.