Several Oklahoma Rural Hospitals under the company Empower HMS are frustrated with their ownership.
The company paid their employees a week late and now many of them are having trouble with their health insurance. The Department of Labor has also launched a federal investigation into the company.
Many hospital employees in Drumright say they are starting to look for other work because the company who owns them is experiencing financial trouble and they want to make sure they have a stable job where they get paid on time.
They say they love their jobs and they want to be there for their patients and the community, but they just feel like this company is taking everything from them.
“This hospital in cooperation with the OSU med center saved my life. I am sure of that,” said Thelma Golden.
Thelma Golden lives in Drumright and was having heart trouble one night in August of 2016 and was life-flighted from Drumright to Tulsa.
She is thankful for their small critical access hospital because if she would've had to drive, she doesn't think she would've made it.
“It’s extremely important to the community,” said Golden. “There’s people that come here to this hospital from other towns.”
Now she just hopes the hospital can keep its doors open.
“I don’t care what these big health facilities tell us about how important rural Oklahoma is to them for medical attention, they’re just blowing hot air in the wind,” said Golden.
One of the nurses that saved Thelma's life is Tonya McWilliams.
McWilliams has lupus and says she went to refill her prescription last week and found out she would've had to pay full price for her medicine because she says Empower hasn't been paying their insurance premiums.
“My medication can be very expensive without a copay,” said McWilliams.
McWilliams says she has tried to contact Empower and hasn't been able to get an answer.
She says she also found out that other policies that she's been paying on like short-term disability and voluntary life insurance were terminated earlier this year.
“One of them was terminated in January and the other in February and I just quickly added up how much money that was out of my pocket and it was over 17-hundred dollars,” said McWilliams.
I reached out to EmpowerHMS and they sent me to a representative on the National Alliance for Rural Hospitals Board who says all rural hospitals have financial trouble in December and this isn't anything new for the company or its owner, Jorge Perez.
“They are under stress right now and they're trying to work through it and they believe in January when things start to come through that they'll be back up and running again and everything will be fine,” said Mike Murtha.
But McWilliams just hopes that the company will sell them to a new owner who cares more about their employees and the communities that they serve.
“We don't need him, we don’t want him. if he continues to own us, I will also be looking for a new job because I can't trust anything about the current ownership,” said McWilliams.
Drumright's Hospital is open and the representative from the National Alliance for Rural Hospitals says that the company has no plans to close the hospital anytime soon.