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Rural Oklahoma Hospital Probably Won’t Meet Friday Goal Of Reopening

Christmas lights still wrap the entrance to Sayre Memorial Hospital, which has been closed for five months. The nearest emergency room is now in Elk City, 14 miles away.
Dale Denwalt
/
The Journal Record
Christmas lights still wrap the entrance to Sayre Memorial Hospital, which has been closed for five months. The nearest emergency room is now in Elk City, 14 miles away.

The hospital in the small town of Sayre closed its doors in February after municipal trust authority members weren't able to renegotiate bond payments.

People’s Choice Hospital, which is based in Illinois, had hoped to reopen the facility by July 1, according to Sayre Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Belinda Graham. But the hospital chain’s president Dr. Seth Guterman says he is still waiting for approval from the bondholders, The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports:

Graham said Guterman’s staff told her and others in Sayre about a month ago that People’s Choice Hospital wanted to reopen the hospital within 30 days. The company has successfully managed other rural hospitals in similar situations, so she said she was hopeful the company could help. Guterman said the bondholders decided the matter was urgent. He said he has not received a letter of intent from them. “We’re trying to navigate that,” Guterman said. “It is held up at the bondholder level.”

Graham says the hospital closing, and the shuttering of a prison last November, has devastated the local economy. She said she plans to hold a job fair to help staff the hospital, but that right now she is praying the deal doesn’t fall through.

From Terry-Cobo:

The downturn in the oil industry also hurt many local, small oil and gas service providers. Graham said she’s promoting a monthly drag racing event and an annual car and motorcycle festival to encourage more people to visit the city.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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