Troubled Times for the Medical Center

OSCEOLA (KAIT)  Thanksgiving will not be a day for celebration  for some former employees of the South Mississippi County Regional Medical Center in Osceola .

According to employees for months now there has been talk that the hospital in Osceola may be shutting down.

Some departments have been closed or curtailed and now people are being let go.

I spoke with two individuals that lost their jobs today.

No one is sure of what the future will hold for the hospital.

Today was a show of strength and support at the hospital as nearly two hundred came together to pray that the hospital would not close.

Even as the group gathered together for prayer and support. We talked to people who lost their jobs today. Just before Thanksgiving.

Trina Eichorn and Rick Lucius  are two of the three workers who lost their jobs on Wednesday.

Rick is a 15 year employee with many responsibilities.

"Said they were doing away with all regional directors and I was a director for both hospitals."

Trina was a supervisor in admissions.

"I'm just gonna miss them. Did you see this coming at all? No I didn't, No, I'm not a high payer, my salary not gonna pay none of their bills."

The CEO of the hospital, Frank Schupp would not talk on camera but told us that the owner, Ameris Health Systems would be issuing a statement on Monday.

Some of the doctors say the staff is doing everything they can to keep the hospital open and they are concerned what effects closing could have on the area.

Dr. Reggie Cullom, "This is a community hospital and these kids have done everything they could to keep it open. Even to the point of buying eggs for breakfast when we don't have enough for the patients. And toilet paper to put in the bathrooms because ameris wouldn't fill the supply order."

Dr. Valencia Andrews-Purtle, "Our patients we've learned to love them and care for them. They walk to our office, and we really need the hospital to stay open. Because it's a very small community but it needs a hospital to survive."

Karen Richardson the chief nursing officer says they are not going down without a fight.

"We have wonderful care here, we have dedicated staff, we have dedicated nurses, we have dedicated doctors. And we need this hospital. Whatever it takes we need this hospital to stay open."

Whether it's corporate finances or just a sign of the times. The employees and doctors and people don't want the doors to close.

They are more than just co-workers.

Cullom, "The majority of them are not going to leave until the doors are closed."

Dr. Cullom says he believes that the county government and Ameris are not taking the situation and the ramifications of the closing seriously enough.

We will be tracking this story and keep you up to date as it unfolds.

If the hospital closes it will mean there will be no emergency room closer than 30 to 45 minutes or more to residents in the southern part of Mississippi county.