It looks like the doors are about to close for good.
Earlier this summer, the board of Sac-Osage Hospital voted on a plan that would result in the place being shuttered.
“Oh Lord no, it was not an easy decision,” explained Mary Chris Smiley, CEO of Sac-Osage.
Realizing the facility was getting deeper in debt, the hospital put out a call for potential partners.
“What we got back was not what we really expected,” said Smiley. “There were no big brothers out there. There is just not a lot of interest in saving rural hospitals because they just don’t make any money.”
The best plan, in the boards mind, was that offered by Citizens Memorial Hospital. CMH would run an outpatient clinic in Osceola. But, it would have no use for the hospital.
“I have heard from so many patients, especially older ones, what a hardship it would be to have to go so far to go to another hospital,” Morton stated. “People are pretty upset about the action the board seems to be taking,” stated Dr. Wayne Morton, a local physician.
Dr. Morton is part of a grassroots effort now working to raise support and money to keep the hospital open. The group, made up of around 30 people, calls itself Citizens to Keep Hospital.
“The funding has already been made available. There are people who have guaranteed that much and people have said they would put in more if needed," Morton explained.
On Monday, individuals against the closure plan voiced their concerns at the hospital board’s regular meeting. That gathering included the resignation of two board members- the two who had originally voted against the CMH plan.
The grassroots group believes its plan will work. However, Sac-Osage’s deal with CMH includes a clause where Sac-Osage can’t negotiate with other parties for 45 days.
“No, we are not even entertaining that because we believe that this is a good option,” Smiley said. ”If we get to the end of that, and we are not satisfied, and we believe that there are other options that we need to entertain we can still step outside and entertain other options. But I don’t believe that is going to happen.
“They don’t seem to be considering the options. They seem to, whatever reason, seem to be following one thing,” Morton said. “We just hope they reconsider and do what we think would be best for the community.”