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At 86, he's fighting to keep hospital alive

Staff writer

Octogenarian Robert Danzman is determined to save Herington Hospital no matter how bleak things might look — and has spent three years on that mission.

Danzman, 86, now director of the hospital board, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case Friday on behalf of the hospital.

If he prevails, what’s left of the hospital after it closed its doors and lost its Hillsboro clinic building to Emprise Bank in a mortgage foreclosure will have relief from debt collectors and get a chance to reorganize and resume operations.

“We are dead set on reopening,” Danzman said.

The bankruptcy petition was drawn up by New York law student Amro Elansari.

Jordan Sickman was assigned bankruptcy trustee.

“We are on the fast track to reopening — and that is our plan,” Danzman said. “That is our goal, and we see a path forward.”

He and a new board of directors already have wrested back access to employees’ 401(k) accounts, although there were a lot of hoops to jump through to do that. When the hospital’s previous administrators fled, employees had no access to their money.

Danzman, not a native to Herington, bought his first house there in 2016.

“I was looking for a place in the Midwest so I didn’t have to travel from coast to coast,” he said. “I was looking at a picture of a house that had some interesting architectural features.”

The house needed a massive amount of restoration to make it habitable again. Danzman arranged to meet with the owners, and they found an agreeable price.

“I had not planned on spending the rest of my life here,” Danzman said. “I was looking for a place to live while I worked.”

Health problems and a lengthy recovery caused him to decide to stay in Herington.

Soon after he moved to Herington, he began hearing whispers that something was wrong with the way the hospital was being run.

The more he learned about the way things were with the hospital, the less he liked what was happening.

He filed his first court case regarding Herington Hospital Jan. 5, 2021, after he learned the hospital had purchased three buildings in Hillsboro to locate a clinic there.

Herington Municipal Hospital was owned by the city of Herington, and he alleged that buying the Hillsboro buildings and operating a clinic there was a misuse of funding.

At the time, Danzman voiced distrust of hospital chief executive Isabel Schmedemann and chief financial officer Bryan Coffey.

Before going to Herington, Schmedemann had a troubled professional history. She formerly was executive director of a Fulton, Missouri hospital investigated for fraud. Some of those involved in a federal fraud probe were convicted and sent to prison, but Schmedemann was not indicted.

Coffey earlier had been chief executive of Hamilton County Hospital but was fired in 2015 for “financial anomalies.”

Ultimately, District Judge Meryl Wilson dismissed Danzman’s case May 14, 2021, ruling that he lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.

On April 20, 2021, Herington City Commission signed an agreement transferring ownership of the hospital to a board of trustees that would oversee not-for-profit Herington Hospital.

On Jan. 11, 2023, Danzman filed a new lawsuit against Schmedemann, Coffey, city commission members, and hospital board members. In that suit, he claimed Schmedemann and Coffey were intentionally running the hospital in such a manner as to enrich themselves and push the hospital into bankruptcy.

On Oct. 10, the same day Herington Hospital abruptly closed its doors, Emprise Bank filed suit against the hospital seeking $1.9 million for unpaid loans and foreclosure on the Hillsboro Clinic building that had been used as collateral on the loans.

Emprise also sought all business collateral including inventory, accounts, and equipment including a CT scanner and ultrasound imaging system.

Danzman, as chairman of the board of directors, filed a motion asking for reversal of a court ruling that hospital bank accounts would be garnished and its assets in Hillsboro would be sold.

Last month, the building was sold in what Danzman called “a 90-second non-auction.” Emprise Bank was the only bidder and paid $280,000 for the building.

According to the latest filing the hospital owes $1.2 million to:

  • $45,640.49 to Kansas Department of Labor.
  • $41,812.82 to AT&T.
  • $80,000 to I Serve.
  • $29,300.58 to U.S. Foods.
  • $26,143 to WIPFLI.
  • $25,880 to CPSI.
  • $24,607.33 to Carnina Health.
  • $24,762.49 to Stryker.
  • $37,598.52 to U.S. Bank.
  • $12,297 to Travelers.
  • $7,154.44 to Kansas Department of Taxation.
  • $6,408.18 to First Business Bank.
  • $6.220.51 to American Proficiency Institute.
  • $4,847.20 to The Phone Connection of Kansas.
  • $4,803.42 to Commerce Bank.
  • $3,423.55 to CDW-G.
  • $2,968.50 Underground Vaults and Storage.
  • $2,525.01 to Foley Equipment.
  • $2,455 to Navitas Credit Corp.
  • $1,741.32 to Cannon Cochran Management.
  • $1,541.24 to MKC.
  • $1,588.32 to Elevate Provider Network.
  • $2,800 to American Red Cross.
  • $1,260.36 to Lutz and Company.
  • $1,108.42 to Eagle Communications.
  • $1,083 to Manhattan Radiology.
  • $1,042.20 to Vyve Broadband.
  • $812.50 to One America.
  • $332.40 to Junction City.
  • $288 to Domain Listings.
  • $271.39 to FedEx.
  • $178.46 to Grainger.
  • $155.96 to Office Depot.
  • $117.72 to Pitney Bowes.
  • $100 to Trubridge.
  • $75 to Landmark Electric.
  • $58.45 to Worldpay Integrated Payments.
  • $22.88 to Airgas.

Last modified April 17, 2024

 

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