Wichita Falls, TX -
Speculation surrounding the future of a North Texas hospital has Texomans on edge. Bowie Memorial Hospital provides residents of the city with healthcare, employment and a sense of security.
The hospital is the City of Bowie's lone medical center and one of its largest employers, employing more than 150 people. Each week the hospital sees about 120 patients and cares for 12-15 inpatients.
"Your schools and your hospitals that's the lifeblood of your community," said Michael Harper, a Bowie resident. "I would joke with people and say I'm close to the hospital, nursing home and cemetery."
Michael and his wife have lived across the street from the hospital for more than 30 years. He told Newschannel 6 both of them have received care from the hospital, but now those convenient services may be in jeopardy.
"The federal government and state government are continuing to decrease reimbursements to not only hospitals, physicians but all providers," said Lynn Hellers, Interim CEO at the hospital. In order for the hospital to keep providing care they may need to become a medical district or find additional funding.
"It's rare that you find a rural hospital that does not get tax money. So far this hospital has been able to operate without the benefit of tax money, but in the future that might change," said Hellers.
The hospital was chartered by the city, but the city does not own or provide funding. Currently, a hospital authority consisting of a board of residents appointed by the city oversee its operations. Hellers said the hospital's board is now turning its attention to taxpayers who might end up having to pitch in, if they want the hospital doors to stay open.
"To the board and the community that's not an option. This community will do whatever it takes to make this hospital a viable option for the people in this area," said Hellers.
If you drive down city streets in Bowie, you will notice red and white yard signs that read, "Save The Hospital." Employees and residents hope this will bring awareness to this issue. There hope is that the city and hospital find a resolution soon.
"If it shuts down we probably have to move," said Michael.
The hospital's board is currently in the process of looking into the process of the becoming a medical district. That would require a vote from residents. If officials manage to file paperwork on time it could be on the November ballot.
There is still no word on the reason why the hospital's former CEO resigned.
Stay with Newschannel 6 as we continue to follow this developing story.