After leaving Artesian Valley Health System, medical providers open their own clinic in Meade

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe
FNP-BC Merrill Hoover and FNP-BC James Green are the owners and operators of Trusted Primary Care, a new clinic in Meade, Kans.

MEADE — In order to support the community, nurse practitioner Merrill Hoover, Dr. Christine Donnelly and nurse practitioner James Green are opening their own clinic in the Meade community. This comes after their resignations from Artesian Valley Health System in late September.

The clinic, Trusted Primary Care, is owned and operated by Hoover and her husband, and Green, with Donnelly planning to join the staff as the supervising physician.

The three healthcare providers’ resignation was shown in a Facebook video amidst allegations of corruption surrounding Artesian CEO Tara Ramlochan.

Ramlochan denied the allegations, which include mistreatment of employees, disregard to hospital chain-of-command such as illegally ordering medications and misappropriation of funds such as Medicare fraud.

Investigations by the Kansas Board of Nursing are still ongoing with Ramlochan and Artesian Valley Health System.

Care for community

Trusted Primary Care is set to open by the end of January, with a still floating date as the building finishes renovations and garnering credentials. The center could potentially start seeing patients on Jan. 11 or Jan. 12 by cash only.

“We still wanted to be members of the community and be able to take care of our patients,” said Donnelly.

Hoover, Green and Donnelly were approached and encouraged by Meade community members, who wanted them to stay in the community and continue clinic care.

“We’re committed to our community here in Meade and whether I’m working at the hospital or not, we started getting a lot of support, I would say within the first week after leaving Artesian,” said Hoover. “Someone I used to work with actually came to me and asked, ‘would you please consider staying and opening your own clinic here because we’d all come.’”

From equipment to technology to credentials and insurance partnerships, Hoover said that the Meade community has rallied to put together a complete clinic.

Services

Trusted Primary Care as a fully outfitted clinic will be able to treat most patients with services including x-rays, blood labs, physicals, and rapid COVID-19 testing, and more.

The clinic can currently accept insurance from Medicaid, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Medicare Advantage, United Healthcare, Aetna, and farmworkers insurance programs. Hoover said they do have plans to apply for Medicare and Medicaid plans from Oklahoma.

Payment plans for people without insurance, same-day sick visits and telehealthcare services will also be available.

While they have partnered with other hospitals in the surrounding area, Trusted Primary Care will not have privileges to take care of patients that are sent to Artesian Valley Health System.

Partnered hospitals in Kansas include:

  • Minneola District Hospital in Minneola
  • Satanta General Hospital in Satanta
  • Ashland Health Center in Ashland

The Meade County Health Department will assist Trusted Primary Care with lab work.

"We're glad we stayed"

Trusted Primary Care is located at 129 S. Fowler Street in Meade, which is owned by pharmacy Bachman Drug.

Additional equipment donations came from the daughter of Dr. Philip L. Stevens of Tonganoxie, who had recently passed away.

Stevens’ daughter was reported to have said that her father would want to help a facility with a focus on primary care in a rural area.

A tribute to Stevens will be placed inside Trusted Primary Care.

“We’re hopefully doing the right thing and we’re hopeful we can help the folks in Meade,” said Donnelly. “Unfortunately, there’s been some tragic things with the loss of two big PCPs (Primary Care Physicians), one in Liberal and one in Dodge, and so I think it’s important that we don’t have more healthcare providers leave the southwest Kansas area.”

Hoover added, “Meade made this possible, we’re really glad we stayed.”

“Since we worked here and worked for them, it just really seemed like we had a lot of Meade’s support, so we’re hoping as we stick it out here with them, we can become part of the community and get to know the people better,” said Green.

Trusted Primary Care is located on 109 E. West Plains Street in Meade, and appointments can be made by calling 620-236-3484 or emailing officemanager@trustedprimarycare.com.

More information can be found at trustedprimarycare.com.