Fort Scott hospital closure leaves cancer patients in lurch


State News

July 5, 2019 - 3:10 PM

When the cancer clinic at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott closed in January, cancer patients such as Karen Endicott-Coyan had to continue their treatment in different locations. Endicott-Coyan has a rare form of multiple myeloma and now drives an hour from her farm near Fort Scott to Chanute for weekly chemotherapy injections. KAISER HEALTH NEWS/CHRISTOPHER SMITH/KCUR.ORG

One Monday in February, 65-year-old Karen Endicott-Coyan gripped the wheel of her black 2014 Ford Taurus with both hands as she made the hour-long drive from her farm near Fort Scott to Chanute. With a rare form of multiple myeloma, she requires weekly chemotherapy injections to keep the cancer at bay. 

She made the trip in pain, having skipped her morphine for the day to be able to drive safely. Since she sometimes ?gets the pukes? after treatment, she had her neighbor and friend Shirley Palmer, 76, come along to drive her back.

Continuity of care is crucial for cancer patients in the midst of treatment, which often requires frequent repeated outpatient visits. So when Mercy Hospital Fort Scott, the rural hospital in Endicott-Coyan?s hometown, was slated to close its doors at the end of 2018, hospital officials had arranged for its cancer clinic ? called the ?Unit of Hope? ? to remain open.

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