Junction City Commissioners received a request Tuesday night for up to $3 million to help fund operating expenses at Geary Community Hospital for the remainder of this year. The money would help GCH reach Jan. 1 at which time Stormont Vail Health would assume operation of the hospital.
The city commission did not grant the funding request, but City Manager Allen Dinkel left open the possibility the issue could be reviewed again late in the year. He said city staff met with county staff on ways to get smaller chunks of money but none were palatable to the county. He said the hospital is important and he doesn't think anybody disagrees, and there are some things that have to be looked at yet. "My recommendation, the city says yes we're still supportive. As far as how much dollar wise I think that's just totally in the wind yet. "
Mayor Jeff Underhill noted that the city is not in a position to say up to $3 million. "I think right now we're in a position to say hey, we're going to keep working with the county, try and be creative.
Commissioner Dr. Pat Landes took a firm stance. "When the city got into trouble we didn't go crying to the county saying you need to help us out. This is a county hospital and they've been on watch for all of time. This is on them in my opinion." Landes said this has come to a head over a decade. "So to come and say the city needs to bail us out, well I don't think so in my opinion, I mean I work there."
Commissioner Nate Butler noted that officials do need to work together and he pointed out everyone is a part of Geary County and Junction City. If they don't cooperate to work this out they will miss out on something. "I think we need to work together and I appreciate the fact we're willing to do that. I hope the two sides can come together and let's put this together, let's come up with some kind of plan to make sure that this thing rolls through. "
Hospital leaders have been working to raise approximately $6.5 million to cover GCH operating expenses until the end of the year.