BRANSON, Mo -- With fiscal cliff concerns, CoxHealth officials say the merger with Skaggs Hospital in Branson couldn't have come at a better time.
There are already several changes on the outside of the hospital. Skaggs is now Cox Medical Center Branson. The temporary signs are just the beginning.
Leaders are celebrating the partnership with a $25 million check. It's the first of many investments from CoxHealth.
The money will go toward health and wellness programs in the community. Among the celebration, there is concern about the fiscal cliff and its effect on this once small town hospital.
"There's more and more challenges. I believe as they start to hit the budget and the debt ceiling, there's going to be more cuts made. We are able to link ourselves with a strong partner that's from here and cares about here," said William Mahoney, chief executive officer of Cox Medical Center Branson.
"It's easy to cut payments to hospitals. In the long run, that's going to be dangerous because often hospitals are the core part of the small communities. We have gone through challenges before and there will be more in the future, but we are still hopeful about it," said Steve Edwards, CEO of CoxHealth.
Leaders believe the merger provides stability and will allow this hospital to grow. About half the people who live in the Branson area travel elsewhere to get care. Cox officials say this investment is all about providing access at home.
CoxHealth will hire more physicians, upgrade facilities and equipment in the coming months. More concrete plans for future projects should be announced in March.