Pushmataha Hospital planning next steps after declaring bankruptcy

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The Pushmataha Hospital is still welcoming patients, nearly two weeks after filing for bankruptcy.

The hospital's board chairman, William Smith, hopes to continue to do so as they work to refinance their 3.7 million dollar debt, stating, "under the Chapter 9 filing, we will be able to continue to offer services as before, and patients should see no change in day to day operations of the hospital."

Funding could continue to be a challenge, however, because 90 percent of patients rely on Medicare and Medicaid, which have seen continuous cuts in recent years.

Although the cuts may not impact larger hospitals, Smith said, "a 2% cut in reimbursements constitutes a great financial blow to us - urban hospitals generally have a much greater private insurance patient mix, therefore a 2% Medicare/Medicaid cut, for example, does not devastate their bottom line."

Other problems include a decline in doctors as well as a decline in patients, due to an increase in free health clinics.

The hospital is now working to identify where cuts can be made.
This may result in layoffs for staff members to ensure that patients have access to convenient medical care.

"It is our intention to keep the hospital services available in order that our citizens do have an immediate access to trauma and care in lieu of having to transit to other facilities which may be as far as hours away from this area," Smith said.

Pushmataha County residents have mixed feelings about the hospital's reliability.

"I've always lived in this area. I've always used that hospital and it seems to be a good hospital," said Terry Kinsey. "I've always had good service there."

Danny Mitchell, another Pushmataha County resident disagreed, saying, "if you break a bone, you need a bone doctor here. If you have a heart attack, you need a heart doctor, but we don't got one."

They agree they want the hospital to stay afloat, however.

"We have two nursing homes in town and they need a doctor. They need a hospital," Mitchell said.

"I hope someone steps in and does something to keep it here because it really helps the community," Kinsey explained. "I think it would be a great loss to the community if we lost it."