This town in St. Clair County is losing a landmark, a major employer, and full service medical care. Sac-Osage Hospital is closing as part of a consolidation with Citizens Memorial Hospital, which is based in Bolivar.
CMH has no use for the Sac-Osage building, which would cost $3-million to $4-million to bring up to standard.
On Tuesday evening, a town hall meeting gave residents the chance for people to speak out. During the forum, hospital officials confirmed plans to close the hospital by October 1st and then tear it down.
“There is a lot of elderly here in this town that need the hospital close by,” explained resident Sara Davey. “And, personally, I have had to go to the ER in the middle of the night and for sure don’t want to go to Bolivar or Clinton.
“There is a negative with having to drive to drive for health care,” stated Donald Babb, CEO of Citizens Memorial Hospital.
CMH says it will operate a small primary-care clinic in Osceola, and will expand its ambulance services in the area. That clinic would be located in a current doctors office building next to the hospital. CMH states it may eventually build a brand-new clinic in Osceola. As for now, Sac-Osage employees have been told they can apply for jobs within CMH. But, there are no guarantees for anyone.
“In this community there are not a whole lot of jobs,” Davey said. “The hospital is our main source of income for a lot of people around here.”
Sac-Osage says it was financially strapped, and the CMH deal was a difficult decision.
“I think a lot of rural hospitals are going to be facing the same issue down the road, said Babb. “With the changes in Medicaid and the reimbursement being reduced, it is going to be a struggle for everyone.”