Osceola wants control of their hospital

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) -For months we have been bringing you the story about Mississippi county's two hospitals and the struggles they face.

Recently rumors surfaced that the Osceola hospital is closing.

On Monday a large group from the hospital and the surrounding South Mississippi county area met with hospital management officials to crunch the numbers.

There have been rumblings about the hospital closing, but for the moment that doesn't seem to be the plan.

What the folks in Osceola would like is for the county to turn over that hospital...to them.

"So I ask you, Please, consider our pleas, do divide the hospitals and give us SMC"

That statement from Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore made before the Quorum court finance committee and lots of supporters summed up Monday's meeting in Blytheville.

Osceola wants control of their hospital.

They have crunched the numbers, presented it to the Doctors in Osceola and have their own group ready to operate it.

Kennemore, "We have left, so to speak, no stone unturned in the operation of this hospital and we are sure it can be operated on a positive cash flow or positive basis. "

County Judge Steve McGuire said to operate, the hospital needs a lot of support.

"Supporting of a hospital is required, regardless of the operators is by the doctors and the citizens."

Judging by the standing room only turnout, the support is there.

Of course, money is the big issue and a presentation was made to the assembled group on projected earnings for both Blytheville and Osceola hospitals.

At Monday's meeting projected finances showed things could get a little better if some leases were changed, some expected government money came in but there is still a lot of concern in Osceola about service cuts till there is nothing left and then what.

According to CFO Phil Norris it takes about 600 thousand a month to operate the Osceola hospital. That translates to keeping a minimum of 11 beds filled every night.

This hospital issue is so touchy that Mayor Kennemore says it could almost split the county.

Kennemore said that if anything happened to the hospital it could nearly cause a huge conflict between the North and South parts of the county.

Of course that is not what anybody wants to happen.

Kennemore says that the county's hospital fund is gone and they have been using general funds to support both hospitals.

"The finance committee has said they can't continue to do that. So consequently if something is not done there is the possibility that we will lose both hospitals and the county will have no hospital."

Kennemore and his group feel that they can raise the occupied bed numbers and since Osceola is a Critical Access Hospital the fee structure is different with a better income than previously given.

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