HERINGTON, Kan. (KSNW) – The only hospital in Herington closed last month. Now, a new healthcare option is on the way from Abilene’s Memorial Health System.

“It is fabulous news. We have a dire need,” said Herington City Commissioner Debra Urbanek. “We are a high-poverty community, and we have a high number of elderly people that just do not have the capability of traveling out of town for any kind of medical care.”

Harold Courtois is CEO of Memorial Health System in Abilene.

“We’re going to try to have at least one provider with physician oversight,” said Courtois. “And if we get bigger, we get bigger. But we have to start small and see where we go from there.”

Courtois says they hope to have something up and running in the way of a clinic in a few months. He also says rural healthcare continues to be a challenge across the state.

“It’s a big challenge today. Commercial payers are paying less,” said Courtois. “Medicare, of course, is trying to move a lot of it to Medicare Advantage. It’s becoming a big issue for us because it’s hard to get by.”

Courtois remains undaunted by challenges. He says the rural lifestyle is worth the fight.

“I think the rural lifestyle is a great one. It’s just difficult to convince people this is the place to come because the movement has actually been back to the city,” said Courtois.

Some in the community say the town of Herington needs healthcare to keep the community whole.

“A great many people in the community move here because we had our own hospital and clinic and emergency room. And Dickinson County has an EMS station on the same block,” said area resident Karen Soliz. “And so Herington has always been a very desirable place to live.”

Courtois says the Abilene HealthSystem is working with the City of Herington and the State of Kansas to get approval for licensing and to make sure there is plenty of parking for a clinic location.