WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Another Kansas long-term care facility is closing its doors. Some advocates say this is becoming an industry crisis.

Leaders at Gove County Medical Center (GCMC) say they tried for months to avoid closing their long-term care unit. They even looked to sell it, but there was no luck.

“It’s been an unbelievably hard decision,” said GCMC Board of Trustees Chair David Polifka.

Leaders say it is harder than ever to run a long-term care facility.

“It’s financial issues, lack of being able to get sustainable help,” said Polifka.

The main culprit is federal and state regulations for critical access hospitals.

“We get federal subsidies to run our hospital, and we actually receive, essentially, a penalty for running our long-term care,” said GCMC CEO Conner Fiscarelli. “Even if they are a ‘break-even’ or profitable long-term care, we actually get a penalty, and for us, it was a significant penalty year over a year.”

According to LeadingAge Kansas, an association for non-profits that provide aging services, since the pandemic, 52 facilities have completely closed or shut down lines of service.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen labor costs rise from double and triple digits for our nursing facilities, and there is just no way to survive,” said LeadingAge Kansas President and CEO Rachel Monger.

Advocates saying these concerns need to be addressed now.

“The ‘Baby Boomer Generation’ is coming forward right now. The influx in the next few years is going to be tremendous, and it’s probably even more severe out here in western Kansas. Our population is aging anyway. We just don’t have that many young people returning,” said Polifka.

“At a time when we need to be investing in expanding aging services, we are instead contracting in every direction right now, and that’s where that word crisis comes in because it truly is,” said Monger.

The facility cared for 29 residents and employed 34 people.

GCMC is having a meeting Monday, April 10, to break down community concerns. The meeting will take place at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Grainfield 4-H Building, 757 3rd St.

If you have questions about the closing, call 785-754-5149 or email ltc@gcmc.org