There’s not a whole lot to this quaint lakeside town in St. Clair County. But, the 900-some souls living here are proud of what they do have.
“I like it very much because it is a very rural community…people here are just really good genuine solid people,” stated Dr. Wayne Morton, a local physician.
One of the biggest points of pride for this community is its hospital. Sac-Osage Hospital is pretty small, but serves a big purpose.
“A lot of the people here in the rural area enjoy that personal care where they know most of the nurses, know the doctors ,” stated Morton.
“It helps the community, it brings more people here ,” explained Anna Orrick, who grew up in Osceola.
Dr. Morton explained, “It’s very important because a lot of the people here because if they have a farming, or other type, of accident, they can get very quick access to medical care.”
Doctor Morton has his own practice, and also provides care at Sac-Osage. However, it likely won’t be the case much longer, as Sac-Osage will soon close its doors.
“I have no idea why they would make such a drastic decision. It would be such a devastation to the town and the county,” Morton exclaimed.
Citizens Memorial Hospital, based in Bolivar, has agreed to take over the assets of financially-strapped Sac-Osage. The hospital will close as part of the deal.
“I think it is very sad and I think it is a big mistake for the hospital to be closed,” Morton stated.
After Sac-Osage closes down, CMH will continue to provide some basic services out of this smaller clinic already in operation. There are also plans for a bigger clinic down the road. While there will still be medical services in town, residents say it won’t be the same.
“I’m a little little disappointed, a lot of people work there,” Orrick stated. “ Just kind of sad, and we kind of saw it coming. But, I was hoping it would stick around a little longer.
The hospital has been having financial issues for a few years. In fact, in 2009, voters in St. Clair County approved a property tax increase in fund operations of the hospital.
The closure of Sac-Osage will mean a much longer trip for people who can’t drive, like the elderly, or for those don’t drive.
“We have a lot of Amish people here. Obviously they don’t have automobiles and it makes it easier for them to get care here,” Morton said.
The nearest available to resident will now be Golden Valley Memorial Hospital in Clinton, 30 miles away. Or, they can travel to the main CMH facility in Bolivar, which is nearly 40 miles away.
“In some cases, if it is something very urgent they might not be able to get to care as quickly as would be best for their health,” Morton said. “I still hold out slight hope that this hospital may stay here. I just hope it will.”