Trust, money and pride are at stake for a hospital and a community that serve Platte County. North Kansas City Hospital may be for sale. The people who manage the hospital and city residents are fighting the idea in court and in the Missouri General Assembly.
But the City of North Kansas City owns the hospital. One estimate places the potential sale revenue at $500 million. City officials say exploring the sale is not a matter of money, but rather a move to insure continued quality health care. Skeptical City residents opposed to the sale, however, point out that City Hall budgets are operating several million in the red in recent years, despite riverboat gambling revenue.
The hospital is in the southwest corner of Clay County in a century-old burg born in the Industrial Age and encircled by the post-war metro suburban boom. A residential population of 4,200 seems dwarfed in scope by the industries and small businesses.
North Kansas City Hospital is a place most Northlanders visit or interact with sooner or later. One of my children was born there. Many of our physicians practice medicine at NKC Hospital. We know people who work there. Many of us see the high-rise hospital on the hill as we commute back north from our day jobs.
The old Spelman Hospital in Smithville was noble. But the St. Luke’s Hospital system absorbed it in health care consolidation. And St. Luke’s built the hospital off Barry Road near Interstate 29 to take advantage of a growing and affluent Platte County. I like the St. Luke’s system just fine.
But NKC has been a bigger operation. Quite a few specialists and out-patient services are there. So we have a dog in this hunt.
Trust is an issue. North Kansas City doesn’t draw any revenue from the hospital nor participate in management. But the hospital’s books are not open for scrutiny and policy is not publicly discussed. Does the hospital serve the poor, help the struggling middle class workers and base policy on community? Or is a tidy profit for managers the goal? Who knows?