Drumright Health Care Workers Fear For Future Of Rural Hospital

Drumright Community Hospital is one of several rural hospitals facing financial trouble.

Friday, December 14th 2018, 11:42 pm

By: Amy Avery

People in Drumright are concerned over the future of their critical access hospital.

Employees say they’re relieved their paychecks cleared because the company that oversees the hospital is facing financial trouble, now they're wondering how long their hospital will be able to stay open.

They also say they have bigger concerns to worry about, because they just found out their insurance premiums haven’t been paid for months and now they are wondering where that money is going.

“I didn't want to worry about not having a job or the doors closing or not getting paid or my benefits being paid so for myself I had to get out,” said Ashlee Lowry.

Ashlee Lowry worked at Drumright Community hospital for five years before leaving in September. She says ever since Empower took ownership of the hospital, she's had concerns.

“They're in it for the money. They want to get what they can quick but they're not looking at what it's doing to little people like myself,” said Lowry.

Empower owns critical access hospitals in several states including Oklahoma. Employees at all four hospitals in the state say they are concerned about the future. Empower did own a fifth hospital in Wilburton - but it shut its doors in October because of financial problems.

“It's no fault of any employee of Drumright hospital or any of the hospitals that this is going on,” said Lowry.

Oklahoma Rural Hospital Employees Concerned 

Lowry says during her time working at the hospital, she saw signs of what she thought was financial trouble and employees at many of Empower's other hospitals are having the same problems.

“I can't tell you how many times we got cut off notices form the electric company or the water because Empower is not paying the bills until the very last minute,” said Lowry.

Just last week Lowry says she got a bill for dental work she received while still employed by the hospital and found out that she still owes $4,000 dollars.

Prague Community Hospital Employees Receive Paychecks, Hospital's Future Remains In Jeopardy 

“I paid my $800 out of pocket but because they didn't pay our premiums, we are stuck with those,” said Lowry.

But Lowry says what she's most concerned about is the impact this would have on the community of Drumright.

“It takes special people to be in this field and it's so hard to think that there are so many people that are caught up in the money that they take advantage of people like us because they know we aren't going to walk out on our patients,” said Lowry.

She says many people in Drumright rely on this hospital and it would be a big loss to the community if it had to close it’s doors.

“If this hospital shuts down and this clinic shuts down. This whole entire community and also the surrounding communities like Oilton, Cushing, Jennings and Hominy would suffer,” said Lowry.

News On 6 has reached out to Empower HMS several times for comment and has not heard back. We have also called the CEO of Drumright Community Hospital and have not received a response.

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