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Drumright hospital closes its doors

Updated:
The end of 2001 means the end of hospital care for the town of Drumright. Drumright Memorial Hospital closed Monday.

It leaves the Creek County community with no emergency care except for an ambulance - with the closest hospital eight miles away. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan visited the hospital on its last day.

Integris Healthcare painted over its name outside Drumright Memorial Hospital - a final mark of separation from the hospital the company ran for 12 years. The staff is packing up inside - cataloging and boxing stacks of x-rays and other medical records to be shipped to Oklahoma City. All the patients left last week - a sad note for physician Stuart Shoemake. "It's going to make it difficult to take care of people with emergency services lab, x-ray and really the big thing we're losing is 65 jobs and the ability to care for patients individually that we don't have in most of the larger hospitals."

Integris lost money in Drumright for the last several years and decided to close the hospital after the last six months of averaging only two patients a day. It's not always been that empty. Wendell Bookout, Hospital Foundation President, "We can remember when the hospital was full." Bookout heads the foundation that controls the city's hospital - he's hoping to find a company willing to re-open it. “We want to be able to take care of our people in Drumright and Drumright itself is a population of elderly people, and that's who we want to take care of, the ones who can't go somewhere else."

Financially the tide began to turn in 1994, when the government decreased the amount it pays for Medicare patients. That cut the hospital's income and the loss of a busy physician also cut the number of patients. Integris says the hospital lost $675,000 last year. The fifty employees will get severance pay - but most have no immediate prospects in a town with no other hospital - and for now, no prospect of one.

The hospital closing was the second big economic blow for the town in 2001.Avis rental car closed a reservation center there in October that employed more than 100 people.
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